Press Release – Auckland Regional Public Health Service
As we settle into the winter and colds become common, it can be difficult to differentiate between a common cold and the early symptoms of whooping cough (pertussis).
Whooping cough is highly infectious bacterial disease, easily spread through coughing and sneezing. It is a disease that can be especially severe in infants, elderly and those with chronic illness.
As numbers of whooping cough cases continue to rise, Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS), encourages the public to take extra precautions against exposing those at risk of the disease.
For healthy adults and children, whooping cough may start simply as an annoying cough and so might be disregarded. The problem lies in the fact that many infants who catch whooping cough get it from a parent, caregiver or older brother or sister.
“A good general rule is that if you have a cough you should stay away from babies and infants. If your work brings you into contact with babies, infants or pregnant women then we strongly recommend that you get a whooping cough booster vaccination every 10 years,” said Dr Andrew Lindsay, Medical Officer of Health at ARPHS.
If your child develops a cough, even if they have been vaccinated for whooping cough, it is important to see your doctor. This is because immunity to whooping cough decreases over time and the vaccine does not give 100 per cent protection.
On time vaccination is the best way to protect babies and infants. The free vaccination programme in children starts at six weeks-old and is then followed at three months and five months. Babies will not be protected until they have received all three doses. If you are not sure if your child’s vaccinations are up to date ask your doctor. Just as important is the vaccination of those who may pass the disease to an infant or other vulnerable people.
Dr Lindsay encourages those who have regular and close contact with newborns to consider getting themselves vaccinated as added protection.