Posted on 08. May, 2012 in News
Parents and carers of newborn babies will no longer have access to free whooping cough vaccinations after the Baillieu Government today confirmed it had slashed funding for the program.
Since 2009, the Victorian Government funded free vaccinations for parents and carers to protect newborns from the current whooping cough epidemic.
In a Parliamentary Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing today, Health Minister David Davis revealed the free vaccine for parents would not be available after 30 June this year.
As of 6 May 2012, there have been 1655 notifications of whooping cough (pertussis) to the Department of Health this year.
Shadow Minister for Health Gavin Jennings said the Government’s decision to dump the vaccine program was ill-considered and unfair. “Victoria’s health system is going backwards under Ted Baillieu and it’s now the health of newborns that will be impacted by this Government’s latest cut,” Mr Jennings said.
“Whooping cough is still a significant public health issue in our community, and the Baillieu Government has now removed this added protection for newborns against the serious illness. “Without knowing it, parents and carers often pass whooping cough on to very young babies who are not immune to the illness until after their third immunisation at six months old.
“If it was good enough for the Baillieu Government to extend the vaccine program to protect newborns last year, why isn’t it good enough to continue funding it now?
Last week’s State Budget showed the Baillieu Government had ripped a further $134 million from the health budget, on top of the $482 million cut last year.
“If this Government cared about reducing whooping cough risk to newborns, it would be investing in vaccinations for parents and carers, not slashing funding for a program that protects them.”