Free pertussis vaccine program expanded

QUEENSLAND has moved to expand its free pertussis vaccination program for carers of newborn babies as Australia’s whooping cough epidemic continues.

The state’s Health Minister, Geoff Wilson, said last week free vaccine had been offered to new parents from July 2009 but the program would now include foster parents, adoptive parents and grandparents of babies under six months of age as well as anyone living in a household with a baby under six months of age.

Expansion of the program would mean twice as many people were eligible for vaccination as the epidemic worsens, he said.

The moves brings Queensland into line with other states adopting the so-called cocooning strategy to protect babies too young to be vaccinated.

It follows a call by infectious diseases experts for a uniform national strategy to combat the epidemic (MO 25 February).

– with AAP