By Catherine Hughes
  • Catherine’s quest

    Catherine’s quest


As my pregnancy progresses I’m just as busy as ever, spreading the word about the importance of vaccination WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING.

May 30 | telethon kids institute public forum

On Monday evening, my husband Greg and I attended a public forum run by the Telethon Kids Institute where parents could find out more about vaccination from some of Perth’s leading experts. The room was packed with parents who had questions about immunisation, however the Question and Answer session was completely derailed by a small group of vocal protestors who filmed themselves interrupting every answer and shouted over the top of everyone else trying to speak.   We have seen this type of behaviour from those opposed to vaccination online, but never in ‘real life’ – their behaviour was so inappropriate that it even made the news the next day. The Telethon Kids Institute did their best to handle a tough situation and offered other avenues to parents who still had legitimate questions about immunisation.


June 3 | third trimester whooping cough booster

Earlier this month I was very proud to have my third trimester booster for this pregnancy. It’s something that wasn’t available or offered to me when I was pregnant with Riley, and I believe it would have saved his life as they are so effective at preventing whooping cough in young infants. The UK and USA have been offering these to pregnant Mums for about five years, so I’m glad Australia has finally come on board. WA currently has the best pregnancy vaccination rates in Australia, but there are still approximately 80,000 babies born every year without any protection to this disease in Australia – so we still have much work to do in this area.


June 5 | 4D Pregnancy Ultrasound 

Usually when pregnant, there are no more ultrasounds after 19 weeks – which feels like such a long time to wait! We opted to book a private 4D ultrasound through Lil Miracles in Baldivis when I was 30 weeks pregnant. Our daughter Olivia was very excited to see her sister on the big screen, and the images were so impressive. I am not as naïve as I used to be and after speaking to so many parents who have lost babies over the last year, I am well aware that many pregnancies do not always go as planned. It was a relief to be able to check on the baby and make sure everything looked normal.


June 7 to 9 | Brisbane Immunisation conference

I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend the 15th National Immunisation Conference run by the Public Health Association of Australia. My wonderful husband stayed home with our daughter Olivia so I could fly to Brisbane for four days and attend. I spent time hearing talks about pregnancy vaccination, reasons for objecting to vaccination, safety studies and learning what new vaccines are being developed. Most of the people attending were immunisation nurses, doctors and researchers. Having roped so many of these people to help out at our Light for Riley stands at parenting expos around the country, it was a great chance to catch up with many familiar faces. It was also nice to have a huge double bed to myself for a few nights. This belly is getting big!

One of the most moving talks was on the last day, where a man in his early twenties spoke to the entire conference audience about being injured by an oral polio vaccine when he was a young child (this particular vaccine is no longer used in Australia). He had suffered physically, emotionally and financially from the fairly severe disability that resulted from his vaccination. It created a dynamic conference discussion about the need for a no-fault vaccination injury compensation scheme. This is something that is available in many other countries, which compensates someone financially if they are left disabled by a vaccine (the statistic is around one in a million). I am a passionate and firm believer in the importance of vaccination, and knows that overall it is one of the most important preventative health methods we have access to. However, for those rare cases like this one, I firmly agree that we need a similar compensation scheme in Australia. I hope to see that happen one day!  PL

Follow Catherine on Twitter @LightForRiley and on Facebook at /LightForRiley.

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