Budget 2018: dTpa vaccine for pregnant women added to the NIP
All pregnant women will be offered a free whooping cough vaccine under new measures to be announced in today’s federal budget.
Some states already offer the vaccine to expectant mothers, but it will now be added to the National Immunisation Schedule — meaning it will be free for all pregnant women.
The announcement comes after the parents of babies Riley Hughes and Dana McCaffery spoke out publicly about losing children to whooping cough.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt urged all mums-to-be to get vaccinated.
“I know what a devastating impact this disease can have on families and beautiful young children like Dana McCaffery and Riley Hughes,” he said.
In 2009, Dana McCaffery died aged four weeks from whooping cough.
Riley Hughes contracted the illness and died when he was just 32 days old.
Both families spoke publicly about their loss, campaigning for more women to get the vaccine.
“As a family, we still mourn the loss of our beautiful baby boy,” Riley’s parents Catherine and Greg wrote on their Facebook page, Light for Riley.
“We have survived this tragedy … through our quest to ensure Riley’s passing was not in vain by educating families on the importance of vaccination.”
Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways and causes life-threatening complications, including pneumonia.
Babies under 12 months and particularly young babies, are at the greatest risk as they have soft airways vulnerable to damage from severe coughing.
Newborns cannot be vaccinated until six weeks of age, meaning the most effective protection is to vaccinate women during pregnancy.
Medical experts recommend all pregnant women receive the whooping cough vaccine, ideally at 28 weeks, during their third trimester.
Immunisation experts said a combination of antibodies being passed through the mother’s bloodstream and the reduced risk of the mother contracting the disease makes 28 weeks the best time to get the vaccine.
The free vaccine will be available from July 1, 2018 for all pregnant women, at a cost of $39.5 million.
Doctors also recommend that fathers or anyone else coming into contact with a new baby get a whooping cough booster, two weeks before the baby is born.
Further information about the National Immunisation Program is available at health.gov.au/immunisation.