Pregnant women in Thames Valley urged to get free whooping cough vaccination

Health professionals from NHS England are urging pregnant women in Thames Valley to get vaccinated against whooping cough. This will protect their new baby from birth, by passing on immunity from mother to child.

Three infant deaths from whooping cough have been confirmed in England this year where the babies’ mothers hadn’t been vaccinated. In fact, nearly half (45%) of pregnant mothers in Thames Valley have not been vaccinated against whooping cough. Young babies are particularly at risk and can’t be vaccinated themselves until two months of age.NHS England (Thames Valley) asks all expectant mothers to get a whooping cough vaccination to protect their babies.

Paula Jackson, Thames Valley Screening and Immunisation Lead said: “Whooping cough in babies is very serious and can lead to pneumonia, brain damage and even death. You can protect your unborn baby from getting whooping cough in its first weeks after birth by having the whooping cough vaccination while you are pregnant.

“The best time to get vaccinated to protect your baby is from week 28 to week 38 of your pregnancy –between 28 and 32 weeks is best to pass on immunity. Talk to your midwife or GP and make an appointment to get vaccinated.”

To help fight the spread of disease in Thames Valley, parents of children up to five years of age are also being encouraged to ensure their children are vaccinated against a range of serious diseases, like diphtheria, polio and measles, tetanus, meningitis C and rotavirus.

Paula Jackson added: “Vaccination is an important step in protecting your child against a range of serious and potentially fatal diseases. Vaccinations are quick, safe and extremely effective. Once your child has been vaccinated against a disease, their body can fight it more effectively.

“You may be concerned that too many vaccines at a young age could “overload” your child’s immune system, but this really isn’t the case. Studies have shown that vaccines don’t weaken a child’s immune system.

“It’s never too late to have your child immunised. Even if your child has missed an immunisation and is older than the recommended ages, talk to your doctor, GP practice nurse or health visitor to arrange for your child to be immunised.”

Case Study

Lucy Chandler Hazelmere, High Wycombe Hair Salon manager, mother to three month old Harry (picture attached) said:” I recognised the risk to my child of not being vaccinated against whooping cough so was keen to take up the offer of a free vaccination. The whole process of getting inoculated at my local GP proved to be easy. I felt reassured that the vaccine was safe and I have encouraged my pregnant friends to take up the immunisation as well.”