Following the pattern of other Australian States, the NSW Government recently scrapped the provision of free Whooping Cough boosters for expecting mothers. This is a mistake.
From July 15, new mums will have to organise and pay for the booster before they give birth or even fall pregnant.
As noted in The Northern Star – the newspaper of the NSW North Coast, a region most at risk due to low immunisation rates – Dr Chris Ingall states:
The vaccine is so important because if the mother is immune her chance of contracting pertussis during birth is much less and the baby will be relatively immune within the first month
It would be very sad to see the choice of whether or not a mother has it decrease because the vaccine is not subsidised
As also outlined in the Star article, the consequences of this new policy will likely be disastrous:
Toni McCaffery said she was “gobsmacked” at the removal of a program introduced as a result of her daughter’s death.
“Dana was the catalyst that started the policy change and to remove the free vaccine is a high blow,” Mrs McCaffery said.
“Because of this new change in policy, it’s going to be harder for women to access the booster, which may endanger a child,” she said.
She also said it was shortsighted for the government to remove the policy with the view an epidemic had passed.
“The thing with whooping cough is that it’s cyclical and immunity wains within three years,” she said.
Tonight, on the Network Ten program The Project, public health champions Toni and David McCaffery again put themselves out there for the benefit of our entire community. This is a magnificent segment, and kudos to The Project team for their factual treatment of this latest series of events.
Please visit this petition, and add your voice: Whooping Cough Booster: Make it Clear, Make it Easy, Make it Affordable.
From Toni’s evidence-based petition:
Whooping cough can kill 1 in 200 babies that catch it. There is no cure. But whooping cough is preventable.
Research by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance has proved the adult whooping cough booster program is working – it halves the risk of newborns catching whooping cough and the epidemic has slowed.
Why stop now? Whooping cough cycles come every three years – as quickly as immunity wanes.
We need to increase community immunity, prevent the next outbreak and protect our babies.
We ask all governments to Make it Clear, Make it Easy, Make it Affordable…to give researchers the time they need to Make it Free
Make it Clear
Stop the confusion and make it clear that every adult needs a regular whooping cough booster, and that women should get one before they are pregnant or in their third trimester to give their baby the best protection. Just like women know to take folic acid – they need to know they should get a booster to protect their baby.
Make it Easy
Introduce simple things to prompt doctors and midwives to tell parents: include in pre-pregnancy information, insert a checkbox on antenatal cards and hospital interview forms, and help doctors, obstetricians and health clinics to keep the booster in stock.
Make it Affordable
When governments funded the boosters, it cost them about $25 per vaccine. But for the public, costs can vary anywhere from $35 up to $90, plus the cost of several visits to the GP – which can total anywhere up to $200. If governments won’t pay, at least help keep the costs down to help caring adults create a chain of protection. Support the AMA and GP networks to order in vaccines at a discounted rate to make it affordable for all adults – mums-to-be, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends.
Make it Free
By implementing these actions we can keep whooping cough at bay and protect babies. This will give researchers the time they need to gather the data and apply to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) to get the 18-month childhood whooping cough booster and adult booster for pregnant women on the free National Immunisation Program.
To find out more about whooping cough and why adults need boosters, please refer to reputable sources:
Let’s get this done, folks. Babies’ lives depend on our action.