Free whooping cough booster shots for toddlers will re-start next month.
The Federal Government has announced it will re-introduce free whooping cough booster shots for toddlers from next month in order to combat a rise in cases across Queensland, reports 9 NEWS.
Queensland is facing a whooping cough surge, with up to five times as many cases brought to doctors in some regions, compared to the same period last year.
The Federal Government axed the free booster shot for 18 month olds in 2003, forcing parents to foot the bills themselves.
While those who have received the shot can still contract the illness, it is much riskier for those who have not been immunised, and Queensland Health said the free shot is important.
“It is more severe if you haven’t been vaccinated,” Kari Jarvinen, a public health physician, said.
Queensland’s Shadow Minister for Health, Mark McArdle, said the rise in cases cannot be brushed aside.
“We can’t ignore this,” he said.
“It is a major disease that affects very young children.”
Guidelines have also recently changed for pregnant women who now need to receive a booster shot for each of their pregnancies.
Catherine Hughes, mother of baby Riley who died after contracting whooping cough as a newborn has previously said:
“If I had been offered a whooping cough booster during pregnancy, there is a good chance Riley would still be with us today. Whooping cough boosters are now free for pregnant women in their third trimester in Australia, and recommended in every single pregnancy.”
“Antenatal care providers need to be recommending these boosters to every single pregnant patient. Antenatal hospitals need to have midwives who can vaccinate available, and not send people away to their GP, as this can lead to confusion or people forgetting. Anybody who has close, regular contact with a newborn also needs to make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations,” Catherine says.
“Childhood vaccination does not begin when the child is six weeks. It now begins when the mother is pregnant. Please don’t forget to have your pregnancy vaccinations and protect your baby from this terrible disease.”
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