Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

We’re running out of vaccination!


National shortages, whether its food, water or even medications, we are all bound to be affected by them at some stage in our lives. But do you notice them when they don’t affect you, or is it only once they do affect you that you realise it could actually be quite a big problem? My next three blogs will focus on national shortages around Australia that you may or may not be aware of.

The whooping cough vaccine is under high demand following a spike in outbreaks of the whooping cough disease across Australia (Rochford, 2016).

These outbreaks of whooping cough are caused by the build-up of people in the community that are not immune to the disease, due to vaccinations wearing off and also the growing number of “anti-vaxxers” (Gangarosa et al., 1998)

This massive urgency has now lead to vaccine restrictions where only health care workers, young children and pregnant mothers can receive the vaccination. (Alexander, 2015)

My sister had a baby girl, Lisa, last Thursday. My sister also still lives at home with my parents, Lisa’s grandparents, therefore they have a lot of interaction with her.

Young babies are most vulnerable to severe disease and death from whooping cough. Therefore, before the birth of a baby, parents and grandparent, the people who have the most interaction with the newborn, are encouraged by the Australian Government’s Department of Health to go and get a whooping cough vaccination to prevent them contracting the disease and passing it on to the baby.

So once Mum and Dad found out my sister was going to be induced, they booked a doctor’s appointment to receive the vaccine. My sister had received hers a few weeks prior.

A few hours after mum and dad were supposed to return home from their doctor’s appointment I called them wondering where they were. Mum informed me they were searching for the vaccine. (because in the country you have to get a prescription then go to the chemist get the vaccine and bring it back to the medical centre to have it injected).

They were unsuccessful in finding a Whooping Cough Vaccine due to the national shortage. After doing some research it turns out they are not the only ones facing this problem.

My first reaction was to ask HOW? We are talking about young children’s lives being at risk! How is it possible that there is a national shortage, not just a small country town shortage but a whole nation?

My sister got her vaccination easily enough as she was pregnant. No questions asked. Luckily my younger brother and sister, and myself received our whooping cough booster vaccine in secondary school.

But what about my sister’s fiancé who is the child’s father, what about my mother and father? All three of these people are living with this delicate new born, having contact with her every day and yet could be causing her harm because of this national shortage. Scary thought huh?

This is not the first time there has been a shortage of whooping cough vaccination and it is known that outbreaks happen every three to four years (Quinn & McIntyre, 2007). With the last one being in 2010/2011 why were we so under-equipped for this recent one when we knew it was going to happen?



Alexander, H 2015, ‘Vaccine restrictions triggered amid dramatic rise in whooping cough cases’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 December, retrieved: 14 April 2016 <>

Gangarosa, EJ, Galazka, AM, Wolfe, CR, Phillips, LM, Miller, E & Chen, RT 1998, ‘Impact of anti-vaccine movements on pertussis control: the untold story’, The Lancet, vol. 351, no. 99, pp. 356-361 <>

Quinn, HE & McIntyre, PB 2007, ‘Pertussis epidemiology in Australia over the decade 1995-2005 – trends by region and age group’, Communicable Diseases Intelligence Quarterly Report, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 205-215 <;dn=506115433119383;res=IELHEA>

Rochford, A 2016, ‘Nation-wide shortage of whooping cough vaccine is “quite severe”: Pharmacist’, Yahoo 7 News, 16 February, retrieved: 14 April 2016 <>


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This entry was posted on April 19, 2016 by in Burwood - Wednesday 11am, Uncategorized.

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