Free whooping cough vaccine for every pregnant woman in Tasmania

The Turnbull Government will provide the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine to every pregnant woman in Tasmania from 1 July this year.

Nationals Senator for Tasmania, Steve Martin said the $39.5 million investment will mean the vaccine is added to the National Immunisation Program, guaranteeing its access, safety and availability for the first time.

“Whooping cough is a terrible disease that can cause life-threatening complications, including pneumonia or brain damage. Babies in their first six months of life are most at risk,” Senator Martin said.

“Newborns cannot be vaccinated until six weeks of age and the most effective way to protect a baby against the disease is vaccination of the mother during pregnancy.

“Whooping cough is a vaccine preventable disease and I urge all Tasmanian mums-to-be to get vaccinated.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government will also undertake a national public education and promotion of the vaccine, targeting pregnant women with evidence based information on the benefits of this vaccine for mother and baby.

“According to the experts, getting vaccinated during the third trimester of pregnancy allows the mother to pass whooping cough antibodies to her baby, protecting them until they are old enough to receive the vaccine themselves,” Minister Hunt said.

Before listing this vaccine, medical experts from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation undertook an extensive investigation of this vaccine and determined it to be safe and effective.

The Government acted on the recommendations from both PBAC and ATAGI in making this vaccine available.

This is part of broader investment in immunisation. The Government has funded $460 million in vaccines and related activities through the National Immunisation Program this year alone.