Expectant mum takes advice on jabs

IAN ALLEN
Last updated 13:41 24/04/2013
Mel King
Derek Flynn

Protection: Blenheim nurse Dorothea Paschke gives pregnant woman Mel King her flu and whooping cough jabs at Springlands Health yesterday

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First-time expectant mother Mel King wasn't sure about having flu and whooping cough vaccines while pregnant.

She was worried the jabs might actually do her baby harm.

However, Ms King spoke to her midwife and nurse, who reassured her that immunisation wasn't only safe but advised.

"I'm going on their recommendations," she said. "You are concerned for your child . . . you don't want to give it anything that is going to cause harm. Especially for first-time mothers, anything you take, you are concerned about."

The whooping cough vaccine is free to women in their third trimester and the flu jab is free throughout their pregnancy and for children under 5 with significant breathing problems.

Ms King, due in July, was immunised at Springlands Health yesterday.

"I heard about the dangers of whooping cough for children and that the vaccine helps to protect the baby while it's in you. Plus, you don't want to get sick [with flu] around your baby, especially going into winter."

Her husband was likely to get immunised as well, Ms King said.

She hadn't talked to other family members about having the jabs.

Nelson Marlborough medical officer of health Jill Sherwood said people with coughs should be careful around babies.

Dr Sherwood and Marlborough Primary Health Organisation immunisation co-ordinator Catherine Flanagan held an information session at Marlborough District Library yesterday as part of National Immunisation Week, which runs until Saturday.

Neither the whooping cough or flu vaccines had serious side-effects, other than mild bruising around the injection site, they said.

Babies under one-year-old were especially vulnerable to complications from whooping cough and often caught the disease from older siblings, their parents or family members and friends, Dr Sherwood said.

"Most adults don't realise they have whooping cough but it is incredibly contagious with every one person who has it passing it on to around 17 others."

In Marlborough and Nelson, more than 1200 people have contracted whooping cough since August 2011. The district health board has had the highest rate of whooping cough cases in New Zealand for the past 12 months with 525 cases.

The outbreak continues, with 35 new notifications of whooping cough across the district last month. Six of the 35 were in Marlborough.

The region's immunisation rates were still too low to prevent outbreaks, Dr Sherwood said.

"Right now, 87 per cent of our eight-month-olds are fully immunised but we really need to get to 95 per cent to protect our children and our communities."

The Ministry of Health had set a new immunisation rate of 95 per cent of eight-month-olds fully vaccinated by December 2014, she said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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