Waikato mum Stacey Illingworth is sharing footage of her baby’s struggle with whooping cough to help prevent other parents going through the same trauma.
Stacey and her daughter Sativah returned home to Te Aroha recently after spending five weeks in Waikato Hospital.
Because Sativah was too young to be fully immunised against whooping cough (pertussis), Ms Illingworth is encouraging all parents to be immunised, and try and avoid contact with anyone who is unwell, especially if they have a cough.
"I would hate for any family to have gone through what we have. It is the worst possible feeling waking up at 5am to find your little baby lying there not breathing, and nearly losing her. I urge everyone to vaccinate their babies as soon as they can and for mums and dads to get immunised too," Ms Illingworth said.
All babies and children are eligible for free immunisations against whooping cough at six weeks, three months and five months old. Babies are only fully protected from whooping cough after their third vaccination at five months. Children also receive free boosters at four and 11 years of age.
Sativah was too young to be immunised, which is why the Ministry of Health also recommends that pregnant women and soon-to-be dads be immunised as well.
Dr Pat Tuohy, Ministry of Health Immunisation Champion and Chief Advisor Child and Youth Health says: "To protect very young babies from this dangerous and highly infectious disease, we need all children to receive all of their immunisations and, also importantly, to get these on time.
"Adults can often be a source of whooping cough infection for young babies. So those who are caring for small babies at home or at work are strongly encouraged to have a whooping cough booster immunisation".
New Zealand is currently experiencing an outbreak of whooping cough with more than 4900 cases reported since the outbreak began in August last year.
Children under five years old are most affected, especially infants under one who are the most susceptible to catching whooping cough. More than half of the hospitalisations for whooping cough occur in babies under one.
University of Auckland Associate Professor of Paediatrics Cameron Grant says that currently one in three infants in New Zealand are at higher risk of ending up in hospital with whooping cough simply because they haven’t been immunised on time.
"The most effective way of reducing the number of little babies in hospital with this horrible disease is by making sure they are immunised on time every time."
Waikato District Health Board Immunisation nurse coordinator Kim Hunter said whooping cough is a serious disease which can make babies gravely ill.
"To see this poor defenceless child [Sativah] struggle for air and choking, for minutes at a time, is just heartbreaking."
For more information on whooping cough, including the video: Whooping cough and baby’s struggle visit www.waikatodhb.health.nz/whoopingcough
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