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Maternal immunisation urged by expert

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/02/2017

New Zealand is leading the way in research into vaccinations during pregnancy but is lagging behind other parts of the world in the number of women who do it.

That's according to Dr Thomas Breuer, the chief medical officer of GSK Vaccines, who is visiting New Zealand.

He says the Pertussis in Pregnancy study in New Zealand was pioneering research that changed global guidelines on maternal vaccinations for diseases such as whooping cough and influenza.

In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health funds vaccination against whooping cough for all pregnant women from 28 to 38 weeks' gestation.

However, the New Zealand figure for maternal immunisation is estimated to be as low as 13 per cent compared to almost 80 per cent in parts of Australia and 70 per cent in the UK.

Dr Breuer says Kiwi mums need to be made aware of the vaccination strategies available to them and their babies to protect the infants in their first weeks of life.

Maternal vaccination works by ensuring a pregnant woman's immune system is boosted by the vaccine. The high levels of the refreshed antibodies pass through the placenta, to the baby prior to birth, so the infant continues to be covered in its first vulnerable weeks of life by its mother's antibodies.

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