342082-c162d846-9f5a-11e4-b0c3-1d439f0b9016Whooping cough vaccines will be made free to all Victorian expectant parents once again, the state government says.

Disease rates have jumped by more than 50 per cent in the last year with children under one the most affected by the increased rates.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews met with new parents at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital on Sunday to announce the program which will provide free vaccines for women in their third trimester and parents of babies up to six months old.

“Parents will get the free whooping cough shots to protect them from giving to their children, unknowingly, what can be a deadly virus,” he told reporters.

“This will save lives.” A tender process will be carried out to source the vaccine, which is currently in a worldwide shortage.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy said more than 80,000 Victorians would be vaccinated under the program.

She said the government was also working to implement its ‘No Jab No Play’ policy barring unvaccinated children from attending day care facilities.

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