Fairies help spread vaccination facts
13th June 2024
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Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and Walsall Council’s Public Health Team have joined forces to run a project in a similar way to ‘Flu Fairies’, which has already supported hundreds by equipping them with accurate information to make an informed choice around vaccination.

The fairies landed at the hospital’s Antenatal Clinic for their first session earlier this month speaking to mums-to-be about the whooping cough vaccine.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a bacterial infection of the lungs and breathing tubes. It spreads very easily and can sometimes cause serious problems. Babies are at most risk, especially in their first few weeks of life. Vaccination against whooping cough in pregnancy provides the best protection for the mother and their baby.

While parents-to-be will receive advice and guidance on the vaccination, they will also take part in conversations and creative activities, which will include making fairies and relaxing in a friendly environment.

Nikki Dunning is pregnant with her first child – a baby girl – due in July. She had her whooping cough vaccination at 16 weeks.

The 30-year-old dog groomer from Brownhills said: “I first heard about the whooping cough vaccine from my sister who has been pregnant in the last two years. When I got pregnant, I saw posters about it in the antenatal waiting room and my Midwife informed me at my appointments. I also did my own research too.”

“So, when I was offered the vaccine, I had it straight away because I knew I wanted to do all that I could to protect myself and my baby.”

Fairies Rachel Parker, Alison Strain and Sam Hale said: “This is our tenth year coming here and we love meeting mums-to-be. We like to discuss any questions or worries they may have about vaccines and enjoy having a chat with them.

“We also offer them the opportunity to make their own little fairy which always puts a smile on faces as it is something nice to do while waiting for their appointment and is a special memory to take home.

Nadia Inglis, Interim Director of Public Health at Walsall Council said: “We’re delighted to be working with our colleagues at the Manor Hospital’s antenatal clinic to ensure parents are informed about the whooping cough vaccine.

“Young babies with whooping cough can get very unwell and most will be admitted to hospital. This is why we’re encouraging pregnant women to consider getting the whooping cough vaccine to ensure their baby is protected within the first few weeks of their life.

“Pregnant women should get vaccinated ideally between 16 and 32 weeks pregnant. If you miss having the vaccine, you can still have it up until you go into labour. It is important to have the vaccine in every pregnancy and it is safe and effective.”

Donna Perkins, Antenatal Clinic and Fetal Assessment Unit Manager, added: “Whooping cough rates have risen sharply in recent years, but vaccination rates have been low. This is worrying because when babies are born, they are at a greater risk as they can’t have their routine vaccinations until eight weeks old. So, it is better that they are born with protection by mums-to-be having their vaccine from 16 weeks.

“It’s understandable that you might have concerns about the safety of having a vaccine during pregnancy, but there’s no evidence found to suggest that the whooping cough vaccine is unsafe for you or your unborn baby.

“The vaccine has been used routinely in pregnant women in the UK since 2012 and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) monitors its safety.”

The fairies will be landing again during June, July and August but pregnant women can walk into the Antenatal Clinic, from Monday to Friday, 9am-4pm to get their vaccine.

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Ian Henery

Member since: 4th February 2019

Presenter Black Country Radio & Black Country Xtra

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