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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Victoria, Australia government wants to stop free pertussis vaccines

By Phil Plait

[Note: Although I think it's clear in the text below, I changed the title of this post to reflect the fact that it's the Victorian government doing this, not the Federal Australian government.]

In Australia, pertussis -- whooping cough -- is at epidemic levels. There were over 38,000 cases last year, and it's killed eight babies since 2008. Despite this, the Health Minister of Victoria wants to cut a program that provides free pertussis vaccines for caregivers and parents of babies. He claims (under advice of a panel of experts) that it isn't providing sufficient clinical results, but many doctors are concerned what this will do to the already too-high rates of infection.

Even if the results aren't as good as hoped, it would make sense to fund this program until infection rates are down, at least to where they were before the epidemic.

Toni McCaffery -- the mother of Dana McCaffery, one of those eight infants killed by pertussis -- has created a petition to continue the program. If you live in Australia, I urge you to read it and sign it if you choose.

And please, please talk to your board-certified doctor and see if you need a shot or a booster.

Why? Because of this, and this, and dammit, because of this.

As long as antivaxxers spread their thin gruel of nonsense, as long as people think it's OK to get a religious exemption from a life-saving vaccination, as long as people aren't even aware that as adults they need to keep up with their TDAP booster shots (as I wasn't), then I will continue to write about this.

As long as babies are dying, I'll continue to write about this. Let's hope I can stop very, very soon.

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- Stop antivaxxers. Now.

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