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From 8th April 2019 the Department of Health & Human Services is funding pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine for all pregnant women from 20 - 32 weeks gestation ideally to be given in every pregnancy. 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 8th April 2019:

  • pregnant women from 20 - 32 weeks gestation during every pregnancy
  • partners of women who are at least 20 - 32 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.

The maximal risk of pertussis infection and severe morbidity is before infants are old enough to have received at least 2 vaccine doses. Around one in 200 infants under 6 months of age who are infected will die. Infants are most effectively protected by vaccinating their mothers during pregnancy. :

The Australian Immunisation Handbook, 10th Edition, 2013 (Pertussis chapter revised March 2015) states that "vaccination is recommended with each pregnancy to provide maximal protection to every infant; this includes pregnancies which are closely spaced (e.g. <2 years)" The optimal time for vaccination is between 20 and 32 weeks. However, the vaccine can be given at any time during the third trimester up to delivery

Skin cleaning prior to vaccine injection

According to Australian Immunisation Handbook, provided the skin is visible clean, there is no need to wipe it with an antiseptic (e.g. alcohol wipe). If the immunisation service provider decides to clean the skin, or if the skin is visibly not clean, alcohol and other disinfecting agents must be allowed to dry before vaccine injection (to prevent inactivation of live vaccines and to reduce the likehood of irritation at the injection site).

For more information about this, please visit Australian Immunisation Handbook website, the link to this instruction can be found here.