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3,349 Babies in Wannon eligible for free pneumococcal vaccine.



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David Hawker MP Federal Member for Wannon Electorate Office: 190 Gray Street, Hamilton, Vic., 3300 Ph: (03) 5572 1100 or Local Call 1300 131 692 Fax: (03) 55 72 1141 Email: David.Hawker.MP@aph.gov.au Web: www.davidhawker.com.au

Media Release The Hon David Hawker MP Speaker of the House of Representatives Federal Member for Wannon

13 October 2005

3,349 BABIES IN WANNON ELIGIBLE FOR FREE PNEUMOCOCCAL VACCINE

With over 3,300 children under the age of two in Wannon, Federal Member David Hawker is urging parents to take action to protect their children from serious pneumococcal infection.

“The National Immunisation Program now provides FREE pneumococcal vaccine to all children born from January 2005 as part of the standard newborn vaccination schedule at 2, 4 and 6 months of age,” Mr Hawker said.

“The immunisation program also includes a ‘catch-up’ component for all children born from 1 January 2003. These children are eligible for FREE pneumococcal vaccine, but only during 2005.”

Mr Hawker said that the Australian Government has committed to providing free pneumococcal vaccine for newborns across Australia, with all newborn babies to be vaccinated from this year on. However, he stressed that there are just three months left for children born after 1 Jan 2003 to receive the free catch-up vaccine.

“I encourage all parents in Western Victoria to access this vaccine and protect their child against pneumococcal now,” he said.

Pneumococcal bacteria can cause a range of severe illnesses in children such as ear infections and the more serious meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain), blood infections and pneumonia. The bug is carried in the nose and throats of healthy adults and children, and can be passed via droplets released into the air by sneezing or coughing.

In Australia, data from 2003 shows there were a total of 447 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease including 7 deaths in children under two years of age.

For more information on the National Immunisation Program visit www.immunise.health.gov.au or for information on meningitis visit www.meningitis.com.au

Media contact: Jane Templeton (02) 6277 4006