Pregnant women will be offered free flu and whooping cough vaccinations at Sunshine Hospital from this week in a bid to reverse a trend of low immunisation rates in Melbourne’s west.

The vaccinations will be offered at a new clinic that opened at the St Albans hospital on Monday.

Midwife Kim Attard, who works at the hospital and is due to give birth there in November, was first in line to receive a pertussis, or whooping cough vaccination.

She said the service was a boon for expectant mothers.

“We’ve needed this service for a really long time,” she said.

The new drop-in service has been set up in the hospital’s ward for women and children in a bid to reverse trends of low rates of immunisation among western suburbs residents.

Sunshine Hospital women’s and children’s immunisation services manager Suzie Ristevski said there were “significant gaps in maternal immunisation” in the Department of Health’s western region, with only 35 per cent of antenatal patients vaccinated against whooping cough and 24 per cent for influenza.

“Antenatal or maternal immunisation is an increasingly important strategy to protect mothers and their babies,” she said.

“It is imperative that we encourage all pregnant women to receive the pertussis and influenza vaccination.”

The influenza vaccination is recommended at any stage of pregnancy, while pertussis is recommended for between 28 to 32 weeks gestation.