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New app to encourage vaccination uptake in pregnancy

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A web-based tool would remind women of vaccination The women surveyed said a web-based tool would remind them of when to take vaccinations

A free app to guide and remind pregnant women about vaccines has been launched by researchers from Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

The MatImms app informs pregnant women about infections that could harm them or their baby, such as flu and whooping cough and which can be vaccinated against during pregnancy. The app features a personalised vaccination schedule based on the woman's due date, which can be synced to her phone's calendar, as well as reminders about when to get her vaccinations and when to vaccinate her baby during the first year.

‘Whooping cough can have a devastating effect on babies and some continue to die from this vaccine-preventable disease,’ said Beate Kampmann, professor of paediatric infection, immunity and international child health at Imperial College London. ‘The whooping cough vaccination in pregnancy plays an important role in protecting babies from this infection.’

A survey of 200 pregnant women in London between 2013 and 2014 revealed that only 26% had been vaccinated against whooping cough. Additionally, only 38.5% of pregnant women were vaccinated for flu in the UK last year, according to a survey of 7800 GP practices. Between 2009 and 2012, one in 11 maternal deaths was caused by flu and more than half of these deaths could have been prevented by the flu jab.

‘Our research shows that a lack of effective communication is the main reason why women do not take up the recommended vaccinations during pregnancy,’ added Professor Kampmann. ‘Our app aims to address the communication gap by providing a one stop shop for women to get all the information they need on the vaccines available to them during their pregnancy from health care professionals and scientists from Imperial College London. We hope that our app can help raise awareness, increase the numbers of women having the whooping cough and flu vaccines and protect more babies.’

The app can be used on iPhones and Android devices and can be downloaded from the respective app stores.

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