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$5.6 million to fight NSW whooping cough epidemic.

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Media Release

The Hon Tony Abbott MHR Minister for Health and Ageing

18 March 2004 ABB031/04


The Australian Government will provide $ 5.6 million advanced funding for the NSW government to help stop the whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic affecting teenagers. The money will be made available immediately and used to buy whooping cough vaccine to vaccinate all children aged 12 to 15 in NSW.

There have been 519 recorded cases of whopping cough in NSW this year.

The Australian Government provides diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (dTpa) vaccine free of charge to all children in Australia. It will bring forward funds originally allocated for the next three years to allow NSW health authorities to carry out a wider vaccination campaign.

The NSW Health Department will coordinate this program and offer free vaccine in a school-based vaccination clinic from May to approximately 750,000 children to try to interrupt the epidemic.

Whopping cough is a serious, sometimes fatal and highly infectious respiratory infection that is spread by coughing and sneezing. It is a particularly serious disease in very young children. About 60 per cent of pertussis cases in Australia occur in people aged over 10 years. During epidemics, cases mainly occur among school-aged children who may then pass the disease on to younger siblings.

Pertussis is the most common vaccine preventable disease in Australia with periodic epidemics occurring every three to five years. I urge all parents of NSW school children to seriously consider taking advantage of this free vaccination program.

Media contact: Kate Jordan, 0417 425 227