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Vaccine shortage ignites fears for unborn baby

SHORTAGE: Soon to be father Raymond Heymer is worried because he has not been able to get the whooping cough vaccine in town ahead of the birth of his son.
SHORTAGE: Soon to be father Raymond Heymer is worried because he has not been able to get the whooping cough vaccine in town ahead of the birth of his son. Paul Braven

EXPECTANT father Raymond Heymer hasn't been able to get the whooping cough vaccination anywhere in Gladstone.

He says the shortage could put his baby at risk.

Whooping cough vaccinations are available for pregnant women past 28 weeks at Gladstone Hospital but it's not that easy for everybody else.

There has been shortage from manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, who produces Boostrix; an injection with three vaccinations including the whooping cough vaccine.

Mr Heymer's partner Natasha is seven months pregnant. She works in childcare and is adamant everyone who comes in contact with the baby needs a vaccination.

This will be Mr Heymer's first baby - a boy but he is nervous he won't be able to get the vaccination before the birth which could mean simply touching his child is putting it at risk.

"I will still hold my baby and take care of him," Mr Heymer said.

"But if the rest of the community hasn't been immunised that's a worry.

"The government is happy to take a strong stance on (the importance of) vaccinations, yet we have no consistent access to them."

Pharmacist Kim Rundle said the vaccine had been in short supply for at least the last eight weeks.

But the community is only at risk if immunisation rates were generally low over a longer period of time, he said, which hasn't been the case in Gladstone.

This is the second time this year there has been a reported shortage of the whooping cough vaccine in Gladstone.

In April pregnant woman Louisa Bradley was turned away twice in one week and told stocks at Gladstone Hospital were empty.

This time, Queensland Health has assured pregnant women that while there is a shortage, the vaccine is still available to them at Gladstone hospital.

In New South Wales the number of whooping cough cases reported by doctors and hospitals has tripled since last year.

NSW Health data shows there have been 2831 notifications made so far this year, compared to just 911 between January and June 2014.

There have been recent outbreaks in Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Wollongong, the Hills District and the Sutherland Shire.

Topics:  vaccination vaccine whooping cough



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