Acting Director of Public Health, Greg Bell, said there had been 37 whooping cough notifications in the last week, more than double that of the previous week.
“Anyone can contract whooping cough, it spreads easily by sneezing and coughing, and can be a life threatening infection for infants,” Mr Bell said.
Public health units (PHUs) actively follow up all cases involving children under five years of age by attempting to contact parents by phone. For those cases involving patients older than five years, the PHU sends either an SMS or letter in an attempt to provide all cases with information relating to whooping cough in a timely manner.
Mr Bell said the North Coast experienced a similar spike in whooping cough cases leading into winter last year.
Persistent low vaccination levels in some parts of Northern NSW is worrying, given that free vaccination is available to all parents. Whooping cough vaccination is valuable in preventing severe infection in infants and toddlers, and if unvaccinated children are infected they are at high risk of severe disease.
“It must be remembered that prior to the NSW Government introducing free antenatal whooping cough vaccinations in 2015, four infants had died in the preceding six years,” Mr Bell said.
“All pregnant women are urged to have the free whooping cough vaccine during their third trimester, preferably at 28 weeks, to provide optimal protection to their infants.”
Positive health interventions, such as vaccination, in the first five years of a child’s life are vitally important in laying the foundation for a healthy and fulfilling life.
The NSW Immunisation Program provides communities with protection against vaccine preventable diseases across all ages including infants, children, adolescents, healthcare workers and older people.
Vaccination is the best way to protect your child and other children in the community from serious diseases such as measles, whooping cough and hepatitis B.
Vaccines work best if they are given on time. Even if a child has a runny nose or cold they can still have their vaccines. Vaccination against pertussis (whooping cough) is recommended for babies aged six to eight weeks, then at four months and six months of age. A booster is recommended at 18 months, again at four years of age and in the first year of high school. Delaying vaccination can increase the risk of your child getting sick.
NSW Health has made it easier for parents to ensure their children are fully immunised on time through its innovative app – Save the Date to Vaccinate.
The app allows parents to enter their child’s name and birth date, as well as their General Practitioner’s (GP) contact details. It then calculates the next immunisation due date and sends a series of reminders to prompt the parent to call their GP to schedule an appointment for each immunisation. Parents can make that call straight from the app.
A Save the Date to Vaccinate website has also been developed and includes resources such as a printable Personalised Vaccination Schedule and immunisation videos.
Download the SAVE THE DATE App or print a Personalised Vaccination Schedule at www.immunisation.health.nsw.gov.au.
To book in for your child’s immunisations contact your local Community Health Centre or General Practitioner.