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Whooping Cough Alert – Vaccination Reminder

Tuesday 8 June 2004

Whooping Cough Alert – Vaccination Reminder

Parents are urged to make sure their children’s immunisations are up to date following two cases of whooping cough or pertussis reported to the Public Health Unit last week.

“This brings the reported number of cases of whooping cough this year to eight,” cautioned Public Health Unit Clinical Director Dr Virginia McLaughlin.

“There were three cases in 2001, one case in 2002, and seven in 2003. Unfortunately, with this year’s figure climbing high, it could be heralding an outbreak of whooping cough here in Tairawhiti, similar to the outbreak in Auckland earlier this year.”

“We had 43 cases in Tairawhiti in 2000, which was our last epidemic year. With epidemics of pertussis occurring every four to five years, we may be due for an outbreak.”

Whooping cough is a highly infectious disease caused by bacteria that are spread by coughing and sneezing – much like colds and influenza are spread.

Dr McLauglin said immunisations given in the first few months of life offer the best protection against whooping cough.

“To give baby the most effective protection, the immunisations should be given at the recommended times. With whooping cough at least three doses of the vaccine and two booster shots are needed between the age of six weeks and four years.”

If for some reason your child has not completed the course of immunisations and is under seven years, it is recommended that you see your doctor or health care provider immediately to discuss catch up immunisations, Dr McLaughlin said.

“Whooping cough or pertussis is highly infectious and immunisation is an effective way of preventing your child contracting this illness. Remember, immunisation is free for children up to the age of 16. Contact the doctor or nurse you see most often today.”

ENDS

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