Free whooping cough vaccinations for pregnant women

Released 28/04/2015

Chief Health Officer Dr Paul Kelly today announced that free vaccination against pertussis (whooping cough) is now available to all pregnant women during their third trimester as part of the ACT Government’s new Antenatal Pertussis Vaccination Program.

The introduction of the new program follows a recent update to the 10th Edition of the Australian Immunisation Handbook recommending pertussis vaccination during the third trimester of pregnancy.

The vaccines will be available through the antenatal clinics at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children, Calvary Hospital as well as GPs. General Practices may charge a consultation fee.

“I encourage all pregnant women to ensure they are vaccinated in their third trimester, ideally at 28 weeks or as soon as possible after, as it offers the best protection for babies until they have completed their primary immunisation for pertussis at 6 months of age, Dr Kelly said.

“Family members and other adults in close contact with young babies should also discuss the benefits of the vaccine, which is available on prescription, with their GP.

“Pertussis is a serious respiratory infection that causes a long coughing illness. In babies, the infection can sometimes lead to pneumonia and occasionally brain damage, and can be life threatening.

“There has already been an increase in the number of pertussis notifications in the ACT so far this year with 115 cases compared to 49 at the same time last year. This has mainly been across the 0-14 year age group compared to the same time last year (45 cases in 2015 to 13 cases in 2014), especially children aged 10 -12 (21 cases in 2015 compared to 3 cases in 2014).

“The increased number of notifications is expected, as pertussis notifications tends to increase every few years, as they last did in 2010-11.

“It is vital that parents ensure all their children are up to date with their scheduled vaccinations to minimise the risk of whooping cough circulating not only in their own families but in the wider community including schools.

“ACT Health has been working closely with the Department of Education and the Chief Health Officer is writing to all school principals across Canberra to provide information on pertussis,” Dr Kelly said.

- Statement ends -

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