Free Whooping Cough Vaccine During Pregnancy

A Foley Labor Government will provide $7.4 million to deliver free whooping cough vaccines to pregnant women in their third trimester (28 weeks) so their newborns will have immunity at birth.


One in 200 babies who contract whooping cough will die as a result of the disease. This is an avoidable tragedy given that whooping cough is a vaccine preventable disease.

Pregnant women should be vaccinated against whooping cough before their baby is born in order to help protect their baby from the potentially deadly illness in their first weeks of life.

The free whooping cough vaccine will be available to pregnant mothers from GPs – similar to Queensland.

NSW Shadow Health Minister, Walt Secord, has announced that a Labor Government will provide free whooping cough vaccine – through their GP – to all NSW women in the third trimester of their pregnancy.

“No newborn baby should be at risk of contracting whooping cough and potentially losing their lives – it is a vaccine preventable disease.

"This vaccination is about giving a baby protection through their mother when they are in the womb. This is so when babies enter the world and take their first breath they have will have immunity to whooping cough.

“NSW Health reports that three babies have died from whooping cough in the last five years – the most recent in September 2014 – and all were unvaccinated.

“Experts are warning us that there is the potential for a whooping cough outbreak that could place more unvaccinated newborns at risk.

“Free vaccinations for pregnant women in their third trimester is the common sense approach that has been adopted overseas to ensuring that newborns are protected from whooping cough.

“This is about giving newborns and mothers the best start in life. It is also about saving lives. I have seen babies struggling to breathe with whooping cough and it is heart-breaking.

“Furthermore, it will also reduce the overall costs on our struggling health system.

“It is common practice in the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand – and I want to see it expanded into New South Wales.

“This is about taking new approaches to reducing costs to the health system and improving our community’s general health and well-being.”


  • This policy will save lives and will be funded by the Government at a cost of $7.4 million. It will include communication and education material.
  • Whooping cough is highly contagious and is spread through airborne droplets. It is a respiratory tract infection with severe bouts of uncontrollable coughing which can be followed by choking or taking a big gasp of breath which causes the “whooping” sound.
  • NSW Health reports that three babies have died of the disease over the past five years, none of whom were vaccinated. The most recent death of a baby from whooping cough was in the Hunter New England region in September 2014. 
  • In January 2015, Communicable Diseases experts at Westmead Hospital warned that a whooping cough outbreak may be imminent as the number of cases has risen in the ACT, Victoria and NSW.
  • The vaccine is also given to pregnant women in the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand.
  • A study conducted by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance found that between 2010 and 2012, only 23 per cent of women in public maternity wards, and 48 per cent in private hospitals, had up-to-date whooping cough vaccinations. This could be partially due to the cost of the vaccine – it can cost between $40 and $200 depending on the doctor.