Dr Padraig McGarry is advising pregnant mothers between 16 and 36 weeks to avail of the Pertussis vaccine
Expectant mothers are being urged by the HSE to ensure they get the Pertussis vaccine to protect their unborn babies from whooping cough.
There has been an upsurge of whooping cough in children around Ireland this year, with five babies from Longford affected in recent months.
One baby became seriously unwell while another infant sadly died from the infection, according to the HSE.
“There have been increased incidents of whooping cough and it’s most common in babies between eight and 10 weeks because they have no innate immunity,” said Longford town GP, Dr Padraig McGarry.
“Whooping cough can be very distressing with young babies so it’s important to do what’s best to protect them.
“The advice to pregnant mothers is to get the vaccine between 16 and 36 weeks. In that case the mother will have the antibodies that will protect the newborn baby.
“And the HSE have removed the cost factor from parents, so the whooping cough vaccine is paid for both those with medical cards and those without,” he added.
The vaccine stimulates the immune system to produce high levels of antibodies to the whooping cough bacteria, according to Dr McGarry.
These antibodies will also pass to the baby in the womb and protect them during the first few months of life.
However, National Immunisation Advisory Committee recommendations are that if you have not been vaccinated by the 36th week of your pregnancy, it is still a good idea to get vaccinated.
Vaccination at this stage will protect you from getting the whooping cough and therefore passing it onto your new baby.
In light of the increased number of whooping cough cases in Co Longford, the HSE has made further recommendations to protect young babies, stating that all mothers with babies under six months old should be vaccinated, as should all adults that will come into contact with the infant.
Whooping cough is highly infectious. It starts mainly with a runny nose.
After one or two weeks, the cough is more obvious and comes in severe intermittent bouts of coughing. This can last for two to three months.
The HSE advises mothers to keep their baby away from anyone with a cough until they have had their routine primary childhood vaccinations.
More information can be found at www.hse.ie.
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