Vic. coughs up for free pertussis vaccine
A rise in cases has lead the Victorian government bring back free whooping cough vaccines for expectant mothers and parents of newborns.
The current Labor brought back the program after it was abolished by the previous Liberal government.
In the last 12 months alone, there has been a 58 per cent increase in known cases, from 2,926 in 2013 to 4,615 in 2014.
Under the renewed program, parents can get the free vaccine as soon as an expectant mother enters her third trimester, and up until the baby is six months old.
It comes as the National Centre for Immunisation and Research Vaccine Preventable Diseases warns that the increase in whooping cough cases could show that the protection given by the current vaccine may be wearing off.
The vaccine program will cost up to $8.4 million over four years.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews says it will save lives.
“Whooping cough is a significant challenge right across our state. We've seen in the last 12 months a massive increase in the number of cases,” he said.
“It's a terrible condition, it can be a deadly condition, particularly in our smallest Victorians - those newborns who can't be vaccinated until they're six months old and don't have the anti-bodies, the inherent protection.
“There is no doubt this decision will save lives, getting rid of the free vaccinations was the wrong thing to do.
“No parent should be making a conscious decision not to get vaccinated themselves, that puts their newborn at risk... and other children, indeed all Victorians, at risk.
“The weight of evidence tells you that we ought to be vaccinating all of our kids at all the milestones, whether it's for whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella.”
The Premier said said the Government was also working on a “no jab, no play” policy, banning unvaccinated children from being enrolled in child care.