Whooping cough vaccine shortage in Mandurah

Ashton Hay is about to have her first child.
Ashton Hay is about to have her first child.

FAMILY members of pregnant women in Mandurah cannot get the whooping cough vaccine, as there is a worldwide shortage of adult pertussis supplies.

In March, Health Minister Kim Hames announced that all pregnant women would be offered free whooping cough vaccines, after the death of four-week-old Riley Hughes from the disease.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisations would have announced new whooping cough recommendations in June.

Phone calls made to local pharmacies last week revealed the whooping cough vaccine shortage in Mandurah.

A spokeswoman for the WA Health Department said they were aware of the shortage.

She said there were sufficient supplies to support government programs, but not the private market.

Family members of pregnant women would be accessing private market supplies.

Falcon woman Ashton Hay said she was concerned that members of her family would not be vaccinated against the disease before the birth of her daughter next week.

“It’s sad that a baby had to die for the vaccine to become important,” she said.

“I am concerned that it isn’t easy for people to get it.”

The advisory group recommends that pregnant women have the dTpa vaccine in the third trimester of each pregnancy, to ensure the best protection for mothers and their babies.

This vaccine has been shown to be safe for use in pregnancy. The vaccine supply companies advised the Health Department that adequate supplies for the private market would be available in the next few months.

Peel Health Campus chief executive Margaret Sturdy said they had not been affected by the shortage of pertussis vaccine.

“Vaccinating mum in the last three months of pregnancy allows for antibodies to cross the placenta and this gives the newborn better protection,” Dr Sturdy said.

“We provide the vaccine to expectant mums through our antenatal clinic.”

Dr Sturdy said there were suggestions that expectant grandparents should update their pertussis immunity too.

“Pertussis in an adult can be hard to diagnose, but as a general rule of thumb, people who are sick with a cough, running nose, fever or any combination should try to avoid being close to newborn babies in the first couple of months of their lives,” she said.

The supply of Adacel (adult whopping cough vaccine) to Australians was increased by 100 per cent in 2014 compared with 2013, and this year supply is expected to increase by a further 10 per cent, according to a spokeswoman from vaccine supplier Sanofi.

Sanofi have received an additional order from the State Health Department and are in the process of fulfilling this order.