New national guidelines have advised pregnant women to receive a whooping cough vaccination at 20 rather than 28 weeks.
Health authorities say the highly contagious disease, which kills around 250,000 children worldwide every year, is best prevented through vaccination, reports 7 news.
Whooping cough symptoms include a blocked or runny nose, sneezing, raised temperature, uncontrolled bouts of coughing that sounds like a ‘whoop’, or are followed by a ‘whooping’ noise and vomiting.
The National Department of Health revealed the new guidelines on Tuesday.
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SA Health’s Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nicola Spurrier, says vaccination during pregnancy can reduce the risk of whooping cough in babies by 90 per cent.
“Babies less than six months of age are too young to be fully immunised against whooping cough and are at higher risk of severe disease, so it is important for mum to receive the vaccine which gives babies some protection,” Spurrier said.
The earlier vaccination helps maximise protection for babies should they be born pre-term.
“The vaccine is free for pregnant women so I urge all expectant mothers to speak to their midwife or obstetrician about getting immunised.”
Women’s and Children’s Hospital nurse consultant Breda MacDonald says vaccination is the best form of protection and pregnant women should be vigilant about receiving the shot.
“The whooping cough vaccine should be given in each pregnancy, even pregnancies close together, to give the best protection for each baby,” MacDonald said.
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