Vaccinating mums key to fighting whooping cough – experts
By Lucy Warhurst
For parents, there are few things more distressing than seeing a child with whooping cough.
Four babies died during the country's last epidemic three years ago.
Now immunisation experts are confident they can save lives by focusing on the mothers, as well as their children.
New research out of New Zealand is being presented at this year's Immunisation Conference in Hamilton, showing just how effective the infant vaccination programme is.
But there's a problem – it only protects babies from five months.
To protect younger babies, Dr Nikki Turner says the key is to vaccinate pregnant mothers.
"If you vaccinate a mother in her last three months of pregnancy she will offer her newborn baby considerable protection against this terrible disease that is still killing our babies," says Dr Turner.
Dr Noni MacDonald is a guest speaker at the conference and says extensive studies show it's very safe.
"This is not a vaccine that causes damage to the baby or damage to the mother, it protects the mother and it protects the baby. It's the right thing to do."
The vaccine is free for pregnant mothers, but uptake has been low.