The Andrews Labor Government’s free whooping cough vaccine for expectant parents and parents of newborns will be available from 1 June this year, a program axed by the previous Liberal Government.
Announced on the first day of World Immunisation Week, the Parents’ Whooping Cough Vaccination Program will be available to all pregnant women from 28 weeks gestation and their partners.
In addition, all parents and guardians of newborn babies under six months of age and who are born after June 1 2015 will be eligible.
The Labor Government is concerned about the significant increase in cases of pertussis, commonly called whooping cough.
In 2014, notifications of cases increased by 57.7 per cent – up from 2,926 in 2013 to 4,615 in 2014. In particular, there was an increase in case notifications among children less than one year old – 115 in 2014, compared to 74 in 2013.
As of 20 April this year, the number of notifications of whooping cough cases across all ages was 1,776 compared with 917 at the same time last year.
Under the free program, women will be eligible during every pregnancy and all other parents will be eligible if they have not received a whooping cough vaccine booster dose in the past 10 years.
The eligibility criteria is based on international evidence which shows that the whooping cough vaccine is safe and effective when administered to pregnant women in the third trimester.
The vaccine will be available from immunisation providers such as GPs, maternity hospitals, obstetricians and local councils.
The Government will invest $8.4 million over four years in the program.
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.
For more information including key immunisation dates, visit www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy
“The Andrews Labor Government is bringing back the free vaccination program for mums and dads to protect our youngest Victorians from this deadly disease.”
“Through this program and our No Jab, No Play policy, the Government can’t make it any clearer – vaccinations are vital to protect our children.”
“As we mark World Immunisation Week, let’s all check that our children’s vaccinations are up to date.”