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Whooping cough vaccine not running out in Queensland

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said today there is no shortage of vaccines for the state’s pertussis (whooping cough) immunisation programs for children and pregnant women.

Following today’s media reports of a shortage in Queensland, Dr Young moved quickly to reassure people that there was no danger of running out of vaccines.

“Although there is a world wide shortage of the vaccine, our immunisation programs for children and pregnant women are not experiencing shortfalls,” Dr Young said.

“Queensland uses a different brand of the vaccine for the pregnancy program to the one in short supply, so there is no issue at all for the state’s pregnant women and their babies.

“The Department of Health supplies the pertussis-containing vaccine to the School Immunisation Program, Childhood Immunisation Program and the Whooping Cough Vaccine for pregnant women program.

“The vaccine for pregnant women is free and provided to General Practitioners and Hospital and Health Services to administer.

“There may be some short term shortages in the private sector in circumstances where patients are seeking immunisation outside the children's program or the program that is in place to support pregnant women.”

Dr Young said reports of people being allegedly deferred by GPs would only be in cases where the vaccine was not time critical.

“These people can return when supplies are again available,” she said.

“People seeking a dose outside of the state government’s childhood program, school program or the program for pregnant women should seek advice from their GP.

“If a GP cannot obtain vaccine for the patient at that time, the patient should discuss options with their GP, as the GP will be in the best place to determine what is necessary in their particular circumstances.

“Other patient enquiries should be directed to 13 HEALTH.”

Dr Young said the Department of Health was active in the prevention of deaths caused by whooping cough, particularly in infants under three months..

“Pregnant women in their third trimester are encouraged to be vaccinated for pertussis due to updated recommendations in the Australian Immunisation Handbook,” Dr Young said.

“Vaccination in pregnant women has been shown to give direct and effective protection to the pertussis disease in newborn infants through the transfer of maternal antibodies in utero,” she said.

“I encourage all pregnant women to consult with their doctor about being vaccinated for whooping cough, considering the serious risks the respiratory disease can have to infants.

“Studies have found no increased risk to pregnancy associated with the vaccination and that the vaccination delivered in the third trimester can protect the baby until the recommended three-dose primary schedule for infants.”

Dr Young said that two booster doses were recommended during childhood to continue to protect the child through to their early teens.

“Booster pertussis-containing vaccines are also recommended for children aged 18 months and then four years.”

Last updated: 4 April 2015