Waikato DHB is pleased to announce that a number of community pharmacies in the Waikato region have started offering free pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination to pregnant women. It is a New Zealand first and allows another avenue for pregnant women to have the vaccination, which is also available to them free at GPs and Health Centres. Currently pregnant women are less likely to visit their GP as their pregnancy care is provided by the lead maternity carer (LMC).
Currently only around 20 per cent of pregnant women receive pertussis vaccination in the latter stages of pregnancy which exposes our newborn infants to significant risk should they come into contact with this serious illness. Recent information confirms that numbers of pertussis cases in the Waikato region amongst adults are again on the rise.
Clinical director primary and integrated health Dr Damian Tomic says this initiative significantly improves access and choice for pregnant women around pertussis vaccination and we will be monitoring whether vaccination rates increase.
“All pertussis vaccinations given by pharmacies to pregnant women will be entered into the national immunisations register ensuring general practices are kept informed when their patients receive a vaccination,” said Dr Tomic.
A recent report from the Child and Youth Mortality Committee has highlighted the impact of pertussis on infants too young to have gained protection from their own vaccinations1. Both mortality and morbidity rates are highest for those aged less than 3 months with seven of the eight deaths reported occurring in this age range.
Medical officer of health and public health physician Dr Felicity Dumble equally endorses this initiative.
“This reinforces the importance of maternal booster doses of Boostrix vaccine (Tdap) in the third trimester of pregnancy to protect both mother and child. Pertussis vaccine is both safe and effective, and now funded, for women at 28-38 weeks gestation,” said Dr Dumble.
“It is important that all health professionals are aware of this and support and enable pregnant women to receive this free vaccine. This is particularly important for Maori and Pacific women as the mortality and morbidity rates are highest among Maori and Pacific infants.”
Free pertussis vaccinations are available at the following pharmacies:
For more information on Pertussis (Whooping Cough) visit
Read the article by Aaron Leaman on stuff: Free whooping cough vaccination available at pharmacies for pregnant Waikato mums