Free Whooping Cough Vaccine for Victorian Parents

The Andrews Labor Government will reintroduce free whooping cough vaccines for expectant parents and parents of newborns, a program axed in 2012 under the former Liberal Government.

The Labor Government is concerned about the significant increase in cases of pertussis, commonly called whooping cough, and will immediately commence a thorough tender process to procure the vaccines.

In the past twelve months, there has been a 57.7 per cent increase in notifications of cases, from 2,926 in 2013 to 4,615 in 2014. In particular, there has been an increase in cases among children less than one year old – 115 notifications of cases in 2014, compared to 74 in 2013.

Parents will be eligible for the free vaccine as soon as the expectant mother enters the third trimester, until the baby is six months.

This expanded eligibility is based on new international evidence which shows that the whooping cough vaccine is safe and effective when administered to pregnant women in the third trimester, up to at least two weeks before birth. Expectant mothers will transfer protective antibodies to the unborn child, and be protected when her child is born.

Unlike the Liberals, who ripped more than $1 billion out of Victoria’s health system, the Labor Government is committed to ensuring Victoria’s youngest are as healthy as possible.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“Ever since the Liberals axed this vaccination program for parents, we have seen cases of whooping cough skyrocket.”

“Whooping cough can be deadly, especially for newborns.”

“Under our plan, mums-and-dads-to-be will be able to receive the whooping vaccine for free so we can protect more babies from this life-threatening disease.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy

“We expect more than 80,000 more Victorians will be vaccinated against whooping cough each year thanks to our reintroduction of this program.”

“Whooping cough is highly contagious and if parents aren’t immunised, they could pass it on to their newborn baby.”

Key Facts

  • Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that affects the air passages and breathing. It causes severe coughing spasms and can lead to complications such as haemorrhage, convulsions, pneumonia, encephalitis and death. Babies are at risk of contracting whooping cough from birth, with children under 6 months being at greater risk of complications and severe outcomes because they are not fully immunised.
  • The Government has committed $8.4 million to this program over four years. As stated prior to the election, the Andrews Labor Government will scrap the Building Code and associated Construction Code Compliance Unit and savings from it will fund this program.