Free Whooping Cough vaccination in pregnancy

Jul 9, 2015 - 6:45am

Free Whooping Cough vaccination in pregnancy

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It is spread by airborne droplets from the upper respiratory tract when the infected person coughs or sneezes.

In young babies it is particularly dangerous due severe symptoms and life-threatening complications. Infants have small airways and the pertussis infection in their lungs causes uncontrollable coughing fits. This may lead to potentially fatal complications such as septic shock and suffocation. Statistically 1 in 200 babies under the 6-month, who contract the infection, will die ( The best way to protect newborns from this deadly respiratory infection is vaccination.

Symptoms of whooping cough:

  • Severe coughing fits
  • Characteristic ‘whoop’ sound at the end of a bout of coughing due to a deep breath
  • Vomiting after coughing

The cough may last up to 3 month, even after the infection is treated with antibiotics. Important: If the child develops blue colour in the lips or skin or has difficulty breathing, seek urgent medical attention.

Recently, there has been a dramatic spike in whooping cough cases in Australia. Based on the Global Pertussis Initiative, from June 1 Victorian State government made a step towards preventing whooping cough by providing a free vaccine. This vaccination would be supplied via the state's government program through immunisation providers such as GPs, maternity hospitals, obstetricians and local councils.

All pregnant women are eligible for the free vaccine during every pregnancy along with all the immediate family members, caregivers and anyone else who has close contact with the newborn. This minimises the risk of whooping cough circulating in the family and at schools. The vaccination provides cover for 10 years after that a booster dose is required.

In addition, Pertussis vaccine is safe and effective for pregnant women in the third trimester. This is the optimal time to administer the vaccination since the boosted immunity from the mother transfers to the baby providing 90 % effectiveness in preventing the infant from contracting the whooping cough.

Vaccinations are given Intra-Muscularly and are very well tolerated. Side effects and allergic reactions are rare.

Brands of Whooping cough vaccinations available in Australia:

  • Boostrix®
  • Adacel®



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