"Protecting baby begins at pregnancy" is the theme for this year's national Immunisation Week.

Immunisation Week, from May 2-9, is an ideal time to highlight the need for pregnant women to be vaccinated against the flu, Whanganui Regional Health Network immunisation co-ordinator Sue Hina said.

She also said it was a good time to remind women to receive a Boostrix vaccination between 28 and 38 weeks of their pregnancy.

"Because pregnant women are more at risk of being hospitalised with influenza, we urge them to have a flu vaccination during their pregnancy to protect themselves and their baby," Mrs Hina said.


"The Boostrix vaccination protects both mothers and babies from whooping cough (pertussis), which several doctors working in the Whanganui region have had to treat in the last few weeks.

"To fully protect a child from preventable disease, the mother must be vaccinated during pregnancy and the child at six weeks, three months, 15 months, and at the ages of 4, 11, and 12," she said.

Mrs Hina said it "can't be stressed enough how important it is" for children to complete their full course of vaccines to protect against diseases such as measles and whooping cough.

"It's been very pleasing to receive results showing that 92 per cent of Whanganui's 8-month-olds and 94 per cent of 2-year-olds are fully immunised on time.

"This is a reflection of our local families/whanau making a proactive choice to protect their children."

Healthy, pregnant women are up to 18 times more likely to be admitted to hospital with the flu than non-pregnant women. The vaccine can be given at any time during a woman's pregnancy and there are no safety concerns.

School clinics for Year 7 and 8 student vaccinations for Boostrix and HPV will run from May 16 to June 10. Parents are asked to return their consent forms to their children's school as soon as possible.

"Boostrix protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, while the Gardasil HPV vaccine protects against multiple cancers and other conditions such as genital warts and recurrent respiratory papillomatosis," Whanganui District Health Board immunisation coordinator Karen Page said.