Flu and Whooping Cough Shots during pregnancy – what you need to know to keep you and your baby safe.

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Flu and Whooping Cough Shots during pregnancy – Your chance to protect your baby during pregnancy and beyond…

You would do anything to protect your baby, wouldn’t you? Well getting the flu and whooping cough shots during pregnancy could be one of the most important things you do and this is why…

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The Flu Vaccine 

Its Autumn in Brisbane, which means that the days are getting cooler and the nights colder. It’s also the time of year that Queenslanders start to think about getting their yearly flu shot, as we are headed into the main influenza season.

Every year, it is important that the most vulnerable amongst us get the flu shot, and this includes pregnant women, the elderly and the immunosuppressed.

This year already, every hospital in Brisbane has been at capacity and turning people away due to Influenza – there has been a 3 x increase in flu cases when compared to last year already and we haven’t hit the main flu season yet.

If you aren’t alarmed by these facts then you should be, especially if you are pregnant or have a young baby.

If the past is a predictor of the future, we could be in for a record-breaking flu season in Brisbane alone. Influenza can cause severe complications and even death. It is not something to take lightly, particularly for women during pregnancy. (reference – https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/Influenza/Pages/influenza_and_pregnancy.aspx)

The Influenza vaccine is developed each year in response to the most virulent strains of influenza that are likely to affect the population.

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The Influenza Vaccine In Pregnancy – protecting your baby before and after birth

Contrary to popular opinion, you do not catch the flu from influenza vaccine, if you do develop flu symptoms it is likely that you have (very unfortunately) caught a virus before you had the shot. It takes 5-7 days for the symptoms to develop during that time you can infect others.

If you get the flu shot during pregnancy (and it is free – funded by the government to help protect those most at risk) you need to know:

  • Flu is serious for pregnant women and their babies
  • Flu shots are safe to have when you are pregnant
  • You can get a free flu shot during pregnancy
  • The flu shot can’t give you the flu
  • A flu shot protects you now, but it also continues to provide protection to your baby after it is born.

The best time to get the flu shot is between April and May so that you have protection during the peak flu season, but if that doesn’t suit your pregnancy timeline, then anytime is better than not at all. You can have the flu shot during any stage of your pregnancy.

Babies are not able to have the flu vaccine until after 6 months of age, so having the flu shot during pregnancy provides them with antibodies to protect them up until they are able to have it.

Getting the flu shot is good for you and your baby, its free, relatively painless, nationally approved, safe for Mum and Baby and provides ongoing protection during your babies first months of life.

Talk to your doctor, midwife or obstetrician at your next appointment about getting your flu shot this year.

Whooping Cough Vaccinations in Pregnancy – why it should be a must do on your pregnancy checklist

You’ve bought the pram and the cot, installed the safest car seat money can buy, but did you know there is one more thing you can do to protect your baby when they are most vulnerable?

Have you ever seen a baby with whooping cough struggling to breathe?

No?

If you aren’t aware, are undecided or before you decide against immunizing for whooping cough – I suggest you google it and watch at least one of these videos.

See if you can last the whole way through the video. It’s horrific and confronting viewing (I am not going to post one here as it is too confronting).

Imagine that happening to your precious, irreplaceable, loved and cherished baby?

Personally, whooping cough has always terrified me. When I was younger, a family that we knew lost their daughter to whooping cough and have been campaigning ever since to improve access to whooping cough vaccinations and raise awareness.

I remember having the whooping cough shot in hospital after the births of both Bella and Xavier, you couldn’t have it during pregnancy at that stage, and the whooping cough shot can take few weeks to take effect in your system.

I remember that all the family had had their shots too as it is important that anyone who is going to be in contact with the baby has their booster shots several weeks before the baby arrives. We were all anxious that I could catch, then pass on, whooping cough to them in the first few weeks of their lives.

When I had just had Xavier – Riley Hughes died of whooping cough in Perth at just 3 weeks old. Every time I read his story I cry (you can read it here if you would like ). I am actually writing this through tears. His parents advocating for changes are what has made the whooping cough vaccine available during pregnancy for women in Australia.

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Here’s the most important thing you need to know about Whooping Cough Vaccinations during pregnancy 

Having the whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy protects your baby during the first 6-8 weeks of their life, until they can have their first immunizations.

Having the vaccination protects your baby from this aggressive disease when they are most vulnerable.

I had the whooping cough shot during both my pregnancies with Archie and Coco.

When Coco was 2 weeks old, there was a small outbreak of Whooping cough at my older daughters’ school, and I found out that I had been in a room with an affected child with Coco for over an hour.

When I found out I was beside myself. Usually, we kept the babies home as much as we could in the first 6 weeks but with four young children, it wasn’t really a possibility this time around.

I rushed Coco to our GP to have her checked out and was so relieved to find out that the whooping cough vaccine I had had during pregnancy afforded her ongoing protection – even after birth.

The steps I had taken during pregnancy protected my baby when she needed it most.

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When Should You Get the Whooping Cough Shot During Pregnancy 

It is recommended that pregnant women have the whooping cough shot between 28 – 32 weeks of pregnancy. The immunity you get from the whooping cough vaccine fades over time, so you need to be vaccinated during each pregnancy from 28 weeks.

It protects your baby even after they are born – up until they can get their first immunisations.

It is also important that those who will be closest to your baby in the first weeks of life also receive whooping cough and influenza vaccines. Make sure your other children are up to date with their vaccines and also carers and close family members.

Discuss influenza and Whooping Cough vaccination with your GP, midwife or obstetrician at your next appointment, and take the steps to provide protection to your baby while they are most vulnerable.

This article has been prepared in partnership with Brands Meets Blog.

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Katie -

Author

Katie is the Managing Director and Editor of Mums of Brisbane. Most days will find her drinking copious amounts of coffee, cuddling her kids and trying not to step barefoot on lego. Katie lives in Beautiful Brisbane with her husband and four gorgeous children.

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