Whooping cough cases in Victorian babies drop more than half

The number of babies contracting whooping cough in Victoria has more than halved in the past year as parents heed the warnings to immunise.

There have been 30 reported cases of the deadly disease in babies aged one and under so far this year, compared to 68 in the same period last year.

Premier Daniel Andrews says the historic low follows the state government reinstating the free vaccination program, which was scrapped by the former coalition government.

“We want to ensure as many children as possible are immunised against serious and life-threatening illnesses,” Premier Andrews says.

“Immunising your child not only protects you and your family, but other children in the community.”

Brisbane mum Rebecca Harreman made headlines last year when she shared a heart-wrenching video of her whooping cough-infected four-month-old son fighting for breath, in a bid to get others to get vaccinated.

“Doing nothing is just wrong,” Rebecca said at the time.

The parents of baby Riley, who died after contracting whooping cough, have also been actively campaigning for parents to vaccinate their kids.

The Parents’ Whooping Cough Vaccination Program is available to all pregnant women from 28 weeks gestation and their partners.

All parents and guardians of newborn babies under six months of age are also eligible.

The best protection for babies is achieved when expectant mothers are vaccinated early in the third trimester.

More than 152,700 whooping cough vaccinations have been provided in Victoria since the program’s return in June 2015.

Victoria’s Minister for Health Jill Hennessy says everything is being done to protect babies from the deadly disease.

“The evidence is crystal clear. Vaccinations save lives,” Ms Hennessy says.

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