• Hannah Phillips

Protecting Pregnant Women from Whooping Cough

All expectant mothers and new born babies around the nation will now be protected from whooping cough (pertussis), with the introduction of a new Coalition Government vaccination scheme.

Under the scheme, the vaccine that prevents the highly contagious respiratory tract infection will be free for every pregnant woman in Australia, protecting both baby and mother from the life-threatening disease.

Image Source: Google Medical Information

Member for Barker, Tony Pasin MP, explained the vaccine is being added to the National Immunisation Program under the $39.5 million investment, that will guarantee its access, safety and availability.

“Whooping cough is a terrible disease that can cause life-threatening complications, including pneumonia or brain damage. Babies in their first six months of life are most at risk,” Mr Pasin said.

“Newborns cannot be vaccinated until six weeks of age and the most effective way to protect a baby against the disease is vaccination of the mother during pregnancy.

“Whooping cough is a vaccine preventable disease and I urge all mums-to-be in Barker to get vaccinated.”

The free vaccine will be available from July 1 of this year for all pregnant women.

The government will undertake a national public education and promotion of the vaccine as part of the scheme, targeting pregnant women with evidence based information on the benefits for mother and baby.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said: “According to the experts, getting vaccinated during the third trimester of pregnancy allows the mother to pass whooping cough antibodies to her baby, protecting them until they are old enough to receive the vaccine themselves."

Medical experts from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation have undertaken an extensive investigation of the vaccine in the lead up to the scheme, finding it to be safe and effective.

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