Free pertussis vaccine for pregnant women and their partners
- From 1 June 2015 the Department of Health & Human Services is funding pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine for all pregnant women from 28 weeks gestation. This provides two-for-one protection with the mother passing antibodies to the baby in utero.
- The following groups will become eligible for free pertussis vaccine from 1 June 2015:
- pregnant women from 28 weeks gestation during every pregnancy
- partners of women who are at least 28 weeks pregnant if the partner has not received a pertussis booster in the last ten years
- parents/guardians of babies born on or after 1 June 2015, if their baby is under six months of age and they have not received a pertussis booster in the last ten years
- Prepare to implement the new pertussis program from 1 June 2015.
- Continue to offer government funded influenza vaccine to pregnant women during any trimester of pregnancy.
What is the issue?
New recommendations for pertussis vaccine in pregnancy
- On 27 March 2015, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) published new guidance stating pertussis containing (dTpa) vaccine is recommended as a single dose during the third trimester of each pregnancy, including pregnancies which are closely spaced.
- The scientific evidence around pertussis vaccination to protect newborn infants has been rapidly evolving in recent years. The evidence highlights the two-for-one benefit and safety of focusing pertussis vaccination in the third trimester of every pregnancy in protecting the newborn infant.
Reinstatement of free pertussis vaccine for parents
- Department of Health & Human Services staff will roll-out the funded pertussis vaccine through current and new immunisation providers (maternity hospitals, obstetricians, general practitioners, local councils).
- From 1 June 2015 vaccine available under the program can be ordered online from www.health.vic.gov.au/immunisation
- A Questions and Answers document for health professionals providing further detail on the program is available at the same website.
Efforts to protect pregnant women and newborns from influenza need to be strengthened
- The World Health Organization recommends that pregnant women should receive the highest priority for seasonal influenza immunisations. This recommendation is based on “compelling evidence of a substantial risk of severe disease in pregnant women, the evidence that vaccination is effective against severe disease, and the evidence supporting secondary protection of infants under 6 months, in whom disease burden is also high”.
- The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists strongly supports routine influenza vaccination of pregnant women at any time during pregnancy.
- Unfortunately, many pregnant women are missing out on the benefits of influenza vaccination. Recent Australian research indicates the most common reason for not being vaccinated was that it was not recommended to them by their health care provider.
What action is required?
- Be informed about the reinstatement of free pertussis vaccine for eligible groups from 1 June 2015.
- Prepare to deliver free pertussis vaccine to eligible Victorians, particularly pregnant women.
- Existing immunisation providers should familiarise themselves with the new information on the Department of Health & Human Services website and stay alert for future updates on the program.
- Potential new immunisation providers can contact the Immunisation Program by calling 1300 882 008 between 9am-12pm and 2pm-3pm Monday to Friday or by emailing immunisation@DHHS.vic.gov.au
For health professionals
- The Department of Health & Human Services fact sheet, Parents whooping cough vaccination program: Q&A for health professionals http://www.health.vic.gov.au/immunisation/factsheets.htm
- The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition http://www.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/Handbook10-home
- The Department of Health & Human Services fact sheet, Advice on pertussis (whooping cough) for clinicians http://docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/Advice-on-pertussis-(whooping-cough)-for-clinicians
For eligible Victorians
A free brochure and poster targeting parents will be available to order from 1 June at http://ideas.health.vic.gov.au/resources-immunisation.asp
If you require any further information please call the Department of Health and Human Services Immunisation Section on 1300 882 008.