Win for Vaccination
- On November 10, 2016
- NSW Doctor
Win for vaccination
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee recently recommended the addition of an antenatal pertussis vaccine on the National Immunisation Program.
Toni and David McCaffery know how cruel whooping cough can be. Their daughter Dana died in 2009 at 32 days old.
“We didn’t get the chance to protect our daughter. No one warned us about whooping cough or that adults need regular boosters. It was so quick and ruthless. What our GP thought was ‘just a cold’ quickly escalated, and in just five days our tiny daughter died,” Ms McCaffery said.
Since their tragic loss, the McCafferies have been tireless advocates for a nationally funded booster program.
“Over the past seven years we have seen booster programs start and stop, with fatal consequences,” Ms McCaffery said. “Tragically, history keeps repeating and babies have kept dying. Dana is one of 12 precious Australian babies that has died from the disease since 2008. Between 1993-2006, a further 17 children under 12 months died from Pertussis.”
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee’s recent recommendation for the addition of an antenatal pertussis vaccine on the National Immunisation Program was welcome news for the McCafferies, and other families who have advocated for a nationally funded program.
“Dave and I were so relieved to hear that PBAC has recommended the addition of the maternal Boostrix® Diphtheria, Tetanus and Acellular Pertussis (dTpa) vaccine (0.5ml injection) for maternal vaccination on the National Immunisation Program (NIP). This booster is a breakthrough in saving lives, reducing the risk of babies catching whooping cough by 91%,” Ms McCaffery said.
“While different states and territories have programs, we have seen programs start and stop over the years, and sadly babies have died as a result. The addition of this maternal booster to the NIP provides one consistent and sustained program that can’t be taken away. This means that that all families across Australia will be given the same free access to this booster to protect their newborn babies.”
If a pregnant woman has the booster in her third trimester, this booster will protect her from whooping cough and she will pass on antibodies via her placenta to her newborn. This means her baby will be born with some protection. Maternal vaccination effectively brings their babies’ first booster forward.
Ms McCaffery cautions though, that just as important as the booster is consistent communication.
“We can’t stress enough how important it is for GPs, obstetricians and midwives to be proactive and inform every pregnant women that this vaccine is available. Just like women are told they should take folic acid, check their rubella status and have a Swine Flu vaccination, we want every woman to know she needs to have a whooping cough booster in the third trimester of every pregnancy.” dr.