When Greg and Catherine Hughes lost their 1-month-old baby son Riley to Whooping Cough, they made it their mission to educate pregnant women around Australia and the world to get a whooping cough booster. The booster is to be given to pregnant women in weeks 28 and 32.
While the message has been wide and clear, through the Light for Riley Facebook page and campaigns, it seems our health professionals aren’t getting the message on the importance of the booster shot for pregnant women in the early weeks of their third trimester.
Catherine, who is now 28 weeks pregnant, has been waiting for her antenatal health care providers to remind her to have her whooping cough booster shot, but so far there has been no mention of the vaccination.
In a Facebook post that has been shared over 400 times and liked by over 3000 people in 6 hours, Catherine contemplates on whether the message she and her husband have been campaigning for, needs to be pushed more towards health care providers.
Catherine wrote, ‘Today I am 28 weeks pregnant – and still waiting for my antenatal health care providers to mention vaccination. To tell me I should have an influenza vaccine, to decrease the risk of severe pregnancy complications, stillbirth and premature birth. To mention the importance of getting vaccinated against whooping cough, because it can kill newborn babies as it did my last. There has been not one word, and not one brochure. Just like last time.
Today I am 28 weeks pregnant – and will be volunteering in Sydney at the Pregnancy, Babies & Children’s expo, with a team of fantastic experts, educating parents about the importance of immunisation. But is it the parents who need educating… or the healthcare providers?
Today, I am 28 weeks pregnant and hormonal and clearly needed to vent. But please, if you are an antenatal health care provider, inform your patients about the importance of maternal immunisation. It’s a method of prevention that can and does save lives. It shouldn’t be left to grieving families to stand up and be strong and raise awareness. It all starts with you. (And THANK YOU to the huge number who do the right thing! We need more of you!).’
There was a mix of comments from those in the Light for Riley community who said their hospital did encourage pregnant women to get their booster vaccination and would mention Light for Riley. While many other pregnant women admitted they were the ones who had to remind their obstetrician to organise a booster shot for them.
The question needs to be asked… why aren’t our health care providers on the ball, reminding their pregnant patients the need for a whooping cough booster shot?
Despite the lax attitude towards the booster shot, the Light for Riley message needs to be supported to ensure that EVERY woman and healthcare provider is knowledgeable of when the booster shot needs to be administered.
Greg and Catherine would never wish their experience on another new parent.
In the meantime we wish Greg and Catherine all the best with this growing new addition to their family and a big thank you for the campaigning they have already done, which has possibly saved the lives of more babies than they’d know.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. If you are pregnant, have you been reminded or prompted about getting a whooping cough vaccination by your health care provider? Or have you been the one to initiate the conversation?