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