Skip to content

Biological Health Hazard – Highly Contagious Pertussis Outbreak (vaccine shortage): New South Wales, Australia


Published Date: 2016-03-04 11:32:13
Subject: PRO/EDR> Pertussis – Australia (02): (NS) vaccine shortage
Archive Number: 20160304.4068067

Date: Thu 3 Mar 2016
Source: Newcastle Herald [edited]

As reported cases of whooping cough [pertussis] continue to rise in the Hunter [region, New South Wales], the region is still experiencing a shortage of the booster vaccine recommended for people who come into close contact with newborn children. Information provided by Hunter New England Health [local health district] shows there have been 271 cases of whooping cough, recorded in the region so far in 2016. There were 112 cases at the same time in 2015, and 50 at the start of March 2014.

The Newcastle Herald reported in February 2016 that supplies of the whooping cough booster had dried up in the middle of Hunter’s worst outbreak of the disease in 5 years. Tim Llewellyn, pharmacist-in-charge at Kotara’s Scott-Dibben Chemist, said they had received a shipment of the vaccine on [Mon 29 Feb 2016], but that supply had already been exhausted by [Thu 3 Mar 2016].

“We received 20 of them, which was our back order from September 2015, and all of them have gone,” he said. “We had quite a few names that we’d put down for them — I know other pharmacies have been doing the same — and every single last one has gone.” Mr Llewellyn said the shortage had caused some family friction, as many concerned parents were refusing to let anyone who had not had the booster visit their new babies.

[Byline: Anita Beaumont]

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts

[Neonatal pertussis is observed to be especially severe, with as much as a 3 percent risk of death. Symptoms can be substantially different, with periods of apnea (breathing arrest) sometimes with seizures induced by hypoxia (low oxygen), usually the most common manifestation of infection. The cough is present but so weak that it may be unrecognized. In these children with so-called malignant pertussis, leukocytosis (particularly with white blood cell counts of 30 000 to 100 000) and severe pulmonary hypertension are ominous signs of mortality.

In a study comparing neonatal pertussis to other neonatal respiratory infections, pertussis-positive neonates had longer hospital stays, less fever, more apnea and cyanosis spells, required more days of supplemental oxygen in the hospital, and represented a large proportion of infants discharged on respiratory supportive care.

A 2014 publication confirms the safety of maternal pertussis immunization: Kharbanda EO, Vazquez-Benitez G, Lipkind HS, et al: Evaluation of the association of maternal pertussis vaccination with obstetric events and birth outcomes. JAMA. 2014; 312(18): 1897-904 (

Maps of Australia can be seen at and The Hunter Region, also commonly known as the Hunter Valley, is a region of New South Wales, Australia. – Mod.LL]

See Also

Pertussis – Australia: (WA) 20160111.3926728
Pertussis – Australia (06): (SA, NS) 20151206.3843920
Pertussis – Australia (Canberra) New Zealand (South Island) 20150827.3606181
Pertussis – Australia (05): waning immunity, further comments 20150507.3347419
Pertussis – Australia (04): waning immunity, comment 20150506.3344844
Pertussis – Australia (03): (AC) 20150505.3342572
Pertussis – Australia (02): (VI) 20150130.3130174
Pertussis – Australia 20150115.3094365
Pertussis – Australia (02): cruise ship, RFI 20141214.3032695
Pertussis – Australia: (NS) infant fatality 20141007.2837006
Pertussis – Australia (05): (WA) 20120418.1105456
Pertussis – Australia (04): newly emerging clones, discussion 20120322.1078115
Pertussis – Australia (03): newly emerging clones 20120321.1076103

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s