From July, life-saving whooping cough vaccine is free for all pregnant women

pregnant woman in bed

Tuesday’s budget will no doubt affect families in a multitude of ways, but one early announcement that we’re fully behind is better access to the whooping cough vaccine for all pregnant women.

Life-saving reform

Free whooping cough vaccination will be available from July 1, 2018 for all pregnant women.

While this vaccine is already available to women in some states, it’s being rolled out nationally as part of the National Immunisation Schedule, making it accessible to all expectant mums.

This is an especially important – and life-saving – development, because babies can’t be vaccinated against the very contagious infection until they are six weeks old. This leaves them vulnerable in those first weeks of life unless their mum is immunised during pregnancy.

Whooping cough is a serious bacterial infection, denoted by an uncontrollable cough and an accompanying “whooping” sound. Whooping cough prevents breathing and sleeping, and causes vomiting. Also known as pertussis, this infection claims the lives of 1 in 200 Australian babies. Complications range from convulsions, brain damage and bleeding, through to death.

Remembering Riley and Dana

Two high-profile cases of infants tragically losing their lives to whooping cough, and the dedicated campaigning of these babies’ incredibly motivated parents, has kept this important issue in the spotlight and sparked this reform.

Read more about whooping cough and immunisation:

Baby Dana McCaffery was just four weeks old when whooping cough took her life. Riley Hughes died at a similarly tender age after he contracted the infection.

Announcing the national improvement to the immunisation schedule, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt paid tribute to these babies and others like them.

“I know what a devastating impact this disease can have on families and beautiful young children like Dana McCaffery and Riley Hughes,” he said, the ABC reports.

We are so relieved and grateful to announce that the maternal whooping cough booster will be added to the National…

Posted by Dana McCaffery – Whooping Cough Awareness on Saturday, 5 May 2018

“Relief, excitement, gratitude”

Dana and Riley’s parents both made statements in the wake of this announcement, expressing their relief at this new push to keep babies safe from whooping cough.

“Relief, excitement, gratitude. That’s how we feel today,” Catherine and Greg Hughes said on their Light for Riley Facebook page.

“This is the vaccine that we have been so passionately advocating for. This is the vaccine that could have saved Riley’s life, had we been offered it. This is the vaccine that could potentially put an end to deaths from whooping cough in our country.”

“We are so relieved and grateful to announce that the maternal whooping cough booster will be added to the National Immunisation Program,” Toni and David McCaffery said via their Facebook page.

“This provides certainty and consistency. All pregnant women for generations to come across Australia will continue to have free access to this vital vaccine, regardless of where you live. Importantly, all families will receive the same information that they should have this booster with EACH pregnancy in their third trimester, between 28-32 weeks.”

So happy to share this with you all!Relief, excitement, gratitude. That’s how we feel today, because the Federal…

Posted by Light for Riley on Saturday, 5 May 2018

Keeping safe from whooping cough

To keep infants as safe from whooping cough as possible, it’s advised that mums are immunised during EACH pregnancy – immunity provided by the vaccine can start to decrease after two years and stops completely by 10 years – and anyone who will come into contact with a new baby (who is not up to date or is unsure about their vaccination status) should get a whooping cough vaccine booster shot at least two weeks before the baby’s birth.

Find out more about keeping your family safe from preventable infections and diseases at the government’s immunisation website.

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