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Whooping cough spike prompts call for immunisation catch ups

Auckland Regional Public Health Service is asking parents to get their children immunised for the school year as a second spike in whooping cough cases continues.

At the end of last term 28 schools and 17 Early Childhood Education (ECE) centres in the region had to manage children with the disease, often excluding those with possible symptoms to reduce the spread of the illness.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Michael Hale says this second wave after the 2017-18 outbreak has seen more cases in five to 10 year olds, and in under ones in the region.

"There’s been a sharp rise in whooping cough notifications this summer with children making up half of the 204 cases from November to January. Over this period, 52 were hospitalised, with infants under one year at highest risk of this.

"Whooping cough is a highly infectious and serious illness. We are urging parents and caregivers to check their children’s immunisations are up to date as they head back to school and childcare," Dr Hale says.

Children with whooping cough cannot go to school or early childhood centres for up to two weeks unless they receive antibiotics. This is disruptive for their learning, and for their parents who often have to take time off work to look after them, Dr Hale says. It is important that suspected cases are kept away from school and childcare to prevent this highly infectious disease from spreading to others.

To keep family members protected, it is important that children are vaccinated on time. A GP can provide a catch up dose for young children.

Vaccination is free for all children under 18 years, and women in their last three months of pregnancy are eligible for a free vaccination to protect their baby when it is born.

Whooping cough starts like a cold with a runny nose, cough, and fever and is spread by coughing. After 7 -10 days the cough becomes more severe and prolonged coughing spasms occur that may end with a whoop, dry retching or vomiting. If your children are experiencing symptoms of whooping cough, please keep them at home from school or daycare and consult a GP. If you would like more information visit your doctor or call Healthline for advice on 0800 611 116.


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