The Member for Melton, Don Nardella MLA has welcomed news that expectant parents and parents of newborns in Melton & Moorabool will be able to receive the whooping cough vaccine for free from 1 June 2015.
Announced during 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 those born after 1 June will be eligible for the vaccine.
Under the free program, which was axed by the previous Liberal Government, 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.
Whooping cough 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.
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in cases of whooping cough.
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.
In 2014, notifications of whooping cough 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 7 April this year, the number of notifications of whooping cough cases across all ages was 1,625 compared with 849 at the same time last year.
From 1 June, parents will be able to receive the free whooping cough vaccine from their local GPs, maternity hospitals, obstetricians and local councils.
Through this program and its’ No Jab, No Play policy, the Andrews Labor Government is making it very clear that vaccinations are vital to protect our children.
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.
Mr Nardella said:
Whooping cough can be deadly, especially for newborns.
This free vaccination program for mums and dads will help protect our youngest from this deadly disease.