Immunisation week – raising awareness

  • Jonathan Coleman

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says immunisation week is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of immunisation. This year’s immunisation week theme is – ‘protecting baby begins at pregnancy.’

“Expectant mums are encouraged to enrol with a Lead Maternity Carer, be immunised during pregnancy, and immunise their baby,says Dr Coleman.

“Getting immunised against whooping cough and influenza when you’re pregnant are two of the most important ways you can help protect your baby for their first few weeks of life.

“Babies are vulnerable to whooping cough until they have completed their six week, three month and five month immunisations.

“Pregnant women are more likely to suffer from complications from influenza that can put their health, and their baby’s health, at risk.”

Whooping cough immunisation has been funded for pregnant women since 2013. A recent study in the UK found that the effectiveness of maternal immunisation in preventing whooping cough was around 90 per cent for babies under two months.

Maternal immunisation rates are increasing. In 2013 a survey of around 200 pregnant women after the influenza campaign found 40 per cent were immunised. This year a similar survey found 59 per cent were immunised against influenza.

New Zealand’s infant immunisation rate for eight month olds have increased significantly in recent years to almost 94 per cent. Support from midwives, nurses and doctors has been an important factor in this increase.

The Ministry of Health has worked with the Immunisation Advisory Centre, the College of Midwives, and the Health Promotion Agency to develop a new resource to support midwives, nurses and doctors in informing parents about infant immunisation.