WA Funds Whooping Cough Vaccine – Why Won’t Baillieu?

Ted Baillieu’s decision to scrap the free whooping cough vaccine for parents and carers of newborns has been undermined by the WA Liberal Government’s announcement it was extending the program.

After June 30 this year, the free vaccination that protects newborns from the deadly whooping cough will be scrapped, with the Baillieu Government refusing to provide funding for the important program.

It was one of the programs axed as part of the Government’s $616 million cuts to the health budget. The program cost $1.6 million a year.

The vaccination provides extra protection to newborns, with parents and carers often passing whooping cough on to babies who are not immune to the illness until after their third immunisation at six months old.

Last month Mr Baillieu claimed that whooping cough vaccinations for adults were not effective – a claim that has now been dismissed by his own Liberal colleagues in Western Australia.

“The Baillieu Government is putting dollars ahead of protecting the lives of newborns,” Mr Jennings said.

“If it’s good enough for the WA Liberal Government to support this important program, why won’t Mr Baillieu?

“Medical professionals have expressed support for the program and so do Mr Baillieu’s own WA Liberal colleagues.

On 30 May, WA Health Minister Kim Hames said: “Australian research has shown that about 50 per cent of babies who catch whooping cough get it from a family member, usually a parent. A vaccination will help protect parents from catching the infection and passing it on to their baby.”

“Mr Baillieu’s claim that the vaccine program isn’t effective is just nonsense,” Mr Jennings said.

“It’s time the Baillieu Government admitted it either doesn’t care or doesn’t understand how important this vaccine is to protecting newborns against the deadly disease,” Mr Jennings said.

Victorian Labor has committed that, if elected in 2014, it will reinstate the vaccination program.