All Mothers To Be Offered Free Whooping Cough Vaccine

With the 2018 federal budget announcements comes the good news that all pregnant women will be able to access free immunisation against whooping cough, a condition that can be fatal in very young babies. Women will be able to access the vaccine from July this year.

Some states already cover the cost of the vaccine to pregnant women but it has been announced that from July it will be covered in the National Immunisation Schedule, which means it will be free for all pregnant women. Federal Health Minister, Gerg Hunt, urges all pregnant women to get the vaccine.

The announcement comes after parents of Dana McCaffrey, who died of whooping cough at four weeks old, and Riley Hughes who also passed away from the condition at 32 days old, spoke out about the devastation that whooping cough had caused.

Both Dana’s and Riley’s parents have campaigned for greater education around whooping cough vaccination. Catherine and Greg, Riley’s parents, said on their Facebook page  “We have survived this tragedy … through our quest to ensure Riley’s passing was not in vain by educating families on the importance of vaccination.”

Whooping cough is an extremely contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and respiratory system, which can cause life threatening complications. New borns can not be vaccinated until six weeks of age, so immunising pregnant mothers is a way to offer vulnerable new borns some protection. It is recommended that pregnant women receive the vaccine at 28 weeks, or in the third trimester of pregnancy.

Doctors also recommend that fathers and other family members coming into contact with new born babies also get vaccinated against the condition. This should be done at least two weeks prior to the birth of the new baby.

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