Whooping Cough Vaccine Shots Are Most Important

Whooping Cough Vaccine Shots Are Most Important

Victoria Minister for Health David Davis

Free Whooping Cough Vaccine Extension For New Parents

Victor P Taffa

Free pertussis vaccine will be provided for the next 12 months in an extension to an important prevention program, Health Minister David Davis said today.

“Notifications have stabilised over the past few weeks, yet cases are still being reported at a very concerning rate. This is part of a nationwide outbreak.” Mr. Davis said.

“We are offering the vaccine to parents of newborns a strategy recommended by immunisation experts as the best way to offer protection to very young babies.”

“Prevention is better than cure. The vaccination of parents helps to create a cocoon of protection for young babies.” Mr. Davis said.

“The Department of Health will buy an additional 150,000 doses of vaccine specifically for Victorian parents of newborns this year. The vaccine can be given to the mother soon after the birth of the baby. Her partner can receive the vaccine at anytime during the pregnancy.”

“The vaccinations will continue to be made available through maternity hospitals and general practitioners.”

“Local Government and maternal and child health nurses have also been informed of the extension so that they can bring it to the attention of their new parent clients.”

Mr. Davis said infants did not develop sufficient protection until the three-dose course of vaccine was completed at six months.

“Pertussis is most serious in babies less than six months of age and around one in every 200 infants under six months of age who catches pertussis will die.” Mr. Davis said.

Victoria’s Acting Chief Health Officer, Dr. Rosemary Lester, said all immunisation providers were encouraged to remind parents of the importance of timely vaccination for their children.”

There have been more than 4,000 cases of pertussis in Victoria to the end of May more than double the cases in the same period last year.

“Increased notifications of whooping cough have been reported across the country.” Dr. Lester said.

“Whooping cough is often a distressing illness causing bouts of coughing lasting a few months. In some cases it can cause serious illness, and is particularly dangerous in children under one year of age.”

“It is a highly contagious disease spread by droplets from coughing and sneezing. Initial symptoms can be similar to the common cold, but these progress to a severe cough. In children a whooping sound may be made at the end of a bout of coughing.”

“Adults who have whooping cough may have a milder illness but are still infectious to others.”

Dr. Lester said immunisation coverage in children was high across Victoria.

“At 12 months of age, 92 per cent of children are fully immunised, with 94 % and 91 % fully covered at two years and five years respectively.” Dr. Lester said.

“Unfortunately, the vaccine is not fully protective and immunity starts to wane about six to 10 years after the most recent dose.”

Melbourne mother Dianne Cherrie’s experience mirrors what has happened in many Victorian families since pertussis notifications began to escalate two years ago.

Her youngest child Tori-Rose, now 10 months, caught whooping cough when she was just four weeks old and was hospitalised for specialist treatment.

“Tori-Rose was too young for vaccination when she most likely caught the disease from her older brother or her nephew who also lives with us.” Ms. Cherrie said.

“I also caught whooping cough at about the same time.”

“Fortunately, Tori-Rose appears to have fully recovered as she is meeting her milestones and not showing signs of any permanent health problems. Other babies who contract whooping cough at the same age are not so lucky.” Ms. Cherrie said.