Free whooping cough vaccinations for pregnant women

Canfan 8 April 2015

All pregnant women in their third trimester in the ACT will have access to a free antenatal pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination, Minister for Health Simon Corbell announced today.

The introduction of the ACT Government funded program follows an update to the 10th Edition of the Australian Immunisation Handbook on 27 March 2015 that recommended pertussis vaccination in the third trimester of pregnancy.

The vaccination should be administered at 28 weeks of pregnancy, or as soon as possible after, up until delivery.

“It is important for mothers to have the vaccine in every pregnancy to ensure maximum protection to every infant, even if pregnancies are closely spaced,” Mr Corbell said.

“The vaccination of pregnant women is shown to be effective in preventing pertussis disease, commonly known as whooping cough, in newborn infants via the transfer of protection from mother to the unborn child.

“Whooping cough is particularly dangerous for very young infants as babies less than six month of age have not yet completed the required series of vaccinations.”

Maternal vaccination provides newborns with protection until they are able to be vaccinated. Infants can receive the pertussis vaccination when they are six weeks old. This is followed up by booster shots at four and six months of age.

“Whooping cough can be deadly, especially for newborns. This program provides newborns with the protection they need during the first weeks of life,” Mr Corbell said.

Outbreaks of pertussis are known to occur every three to four years, the most recent in the ACT in 2010-2011/12. An increase in pertussis notifications is therefore expected in the coming years.

This program will provide protection against pertussis to newborns during any future outbreak.

It is expected that the program will commence later this month.

(Simon Corbell media release)

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