State extends vaccination program for new parents
Western Australia's pertussis vaccination program for parents and carers of newborns has been extended until the end of the year.
The State began funding the vaccination program—which aims to protect newborns against whooping cough—for new parents, grandparents and household carers on 1 January 2011.
The program had been scheduled to end next month but has been extended due to the continuing high level of whooping cough activity in the community. Although still elevated, the number of pertussis notifications has been falling since January 2012 and the Department of Health will continue to monitor pertussis notifications to help inform the decision as to whether the vaccination program continues beyond 2012.
The importance of pertussis immunisation was supported by an Australian Government campaign that was launched last November. It consisted of:
- media alerts urging parents and people working or living with young children to check their immunisation status and to get immunised for pertussis if they had not been vaccinated against the disease within the previous 10 years
- a letter to the parents of all newborns encouraging them to get their babies vaccinated at six weeks (rather than waiting until they were two months of age) and urging them to check the immunisation status of siblings, finalising vaccinations for any whose immunisation was incomplete
- provision of educational material to all immunisation providers highlighting the importance of promoting pertussis immunisation and offering the vaccine to all infants at six weeks of age.