WHOOPING cough cases in Ballarat are dramatically declining.
The rate of babies contracting the deadly disease is less than a third of what it was in Ballarat at the same time last year, according to the Department of Health. There have been 25 cases reported in Ballarat to August 15, compared to 78 a year ago.
Western Victoria Primary Health Network immunisation consultant Alison Elliott said the results reflected greater parental awareness and programs to increase immunisation in babies and expectant parents.
Children can receive a booster whooping cough vaccine at 18 months old, which was introduced in April. A parents’ whooping cough vaccination available to new parents, guardians and pregnant women from 28 weeks’ gestation was reintroduced in June last year.
“We know it can reduce transmission and we’re finding immunity can wane in children after their initial vaccination,” Ms Elliott said.
“...Pregnant women in their third trimester can access the vaccine, which gives their unborn baby protective antibodies to help in that first six weeks of life, until the baby can have their whooping cough vaccination.”
City of Ballarat boasts strong vaccination rates with 94.74 per cent of five-year-olds up to date in their immunisations, compared to 93.78 per cent of five-year-olds in the wider Grampians region and 93.5 per cent statewide.
Ballarat is on target for a dramatic year-long improvement on 105 whooping cough cases presented for all 2015 and a 217 total for 2014.
This reflects a statewide downward trend in whooping cough cases by 40 per cent. Premier Daniel Andrews said these figures reinforced the importance of vaccinations to protect babies and save lives.
“We want to ensure as many children as possible are immunised against serious and life-threatening illnesses,” Mr Andrews said.
“Immunising your child not only protects you and your family, but other children in the community.”
Victorians have been able to access flu and whooping cough vaccinations at their local pharmacies since June.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.