Best age for immunisation
The additional whooping cough vaccine at 18 months was added to the National Immunisation Program Schedule as a result of work by researchers from the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at the Telethon Kids Institute and others. They found that the protection children received from their three baby doses of the whooping cough vaccine started to wear off after a couple of years so they were at increased risk of whooping cough before having their first booster dose at four. A booster for 18-month-olds now provides boosted protection earlier. For more information, view our media release.
Telethon Kids Institute researchers also collaborated on a project which assessed whether vaccinating parents against whooping cough helped to protect their newborn babies. Researchers found that babies born to immunised parents were half as likely to be infected with whooping cough. Whooping cough vaccination is now provided free for all West Australian women during pregnancy.
The maternal vaccine has since been added to the National Immunisation Schedule and will be free for all pregnant women nationally from 1 July 2018.
Effectiveness of vaccine
While current vaccines are very good at protecting the person who receives it, they are not so effective for stopping spread of whooping cough in the community. This means every person would need to be vaccinated regularly to completely get rid of whooping cough. A Telethon Kids Institute pilot study will offer some babies an older whole-cell vaccine which might be better for blocking the spread of whooping cough, including to those too young or too sick to be vaccinated.