04 October 2016

Midwives cleared for key immunisation role

Public sector midwives will be able to administer pertussis and influenza vaccinations to pregnant women following changes to the WA Health Vaccine Administration Code and the introduction of a new training course.

WA Health Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer (CNMO) Karen Bradley said the CNMO would further support these changes by offering scholarships to midwives to help with course fees.

“The evidence about the importance of protecting pregnant women and their babies through vaccination in pregnancy is clear,” Ms Bradley said.

“These changes afford midwives working in antenatal clinic and midwifery-led models of care the opportunity to offer women the vaccinations at the time when women attend for appointments, without the need to find a medical officer to write up a medication form.”

The course, Understanding Vaccines for Midwives – Vaccination requirements during pregnancy and early childhood, was developed by the South Australian Department of Health.

It aims to equip midwives with knowledge and skills to engage with parents on the topics of vaccines and immunisation. It covers the midwife’s role in immunisation, legislation relating to vaccine administration, the communication of vaccine safety and risk.

Ms Bradley said it was recommended that pregnant women received both influenza and pertussis vaccines in pregnancy to protect themselves and their babies.

“The World Health Organization recommends influenza vaccination for pregnant women as the highest priority, and studies have shown that babies are 25 per cent less likely to be hospitalised from flu-related illnesses if their mums are immunised against flu while pregnant,” she said.

“Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious infection, which is dangerous to newborns. Vaccination in pregnancy not only protects the mother but also passes immunity to her baby to protect them when they are too young to be immunised themselves.”

The online Understanding Vaccines for Midwives course is recognised by the Australian College of Midwives as continuing professional development (CPD), and is allocated 20 CPD hours.

For more information on the course, or the WA Health Vaccine Administration Code changes, visit the immunisation education web page or contact Palee Kaur palee.kaur@health.wa.gov.au.