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Cocooning program abandoned as pertussis epidemic wanes
AS AUSTRALIA winds back its pertussis cocooning program, NSW Health will now offer free vaccination for new mothers only, while most other states cease to offer any parent/carer protection.
As of 1 July, the campaign aiming to protect newborns by vaccinating carers has been scaled back. New mothers in NSW can get the vaccine in maternity units or from their GP within two weeks of giving birth.
The NSW director of health protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty said although the evidence was not available yet, vaccinating new mothers was most likely to be effective in protecting their baby if given before pregnancy or soon after birth.
Qld Health confirmed its free program for parents and grandparents of babies under six months would cease on 30 June. The Victorian program has also finished.
Health authorities say the pertussis epidemic is waning. Notification data shows NSW cases have dropped from about 2000 to 500 per month, Victorian cases have halved, and Queensland also shows a downward trend.
The PBAC last year rejected National Immunisation Program (NIP) listing for adult vaccination on the basis of uncertain clinical effectiveness.
A program continues in the NT, while vaccination of parents and grandparents will cease in WA on 31 December.
Paediatrician Professor Robert Booy of the Children’s Hospital, Westmead, said he supported NSW Health’s decision and would advise mothers in other states to seek vaccination.
“Fathers and family members could do themselves a favour by getting vaccinated during the pregnancy,” he said, adding healthcare workers should as well.
Professor Peter McIntyre, director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, said cocooning was a motivator to get adults immunised with state-based programs achieving 80% coverage.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is considering the place of antepartum vaccination, introduced last year by the US Centers for Disease Control.