Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Update

Press Release – West Coast DHB

The free booster vaccine now available to health care workers, early childhood education staff, and those living with a baby under the age of six months is only part of what’s needed to help contain the current outbreak of pertussis on the West Coast says Dr … Media Release

14 October 2011

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Update

The free booster vaccine now available to health care workers, early childhood education staff, and those living with a baby under the age of six months is only part of what’s needed to help contain the current outbreak of pertussis on the West Coast says Dr Cheryl Brunton, the West Coast Medical Officer of Health.

“It’s important to remember that the best protection, particularly for babies under the age of one, who are the most vulnerable to severe outcomes of contracting pertussis (whooping cough), is still for all babies and children to receive their childhood vaccinations on time”

Immunisation against pertussis is free as part of the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule at the ages of:

6 weeks

3 months

5 months

4 years

11 years

Because pertussis immunity wanes with age, older people can contract pertussis and pass it on to others even if they have been immunised or had the disease as a child.

Between 1st May 2011 and 7 October 2011 there have been 215 notifications of suspected pertussis received by Community & Public Health’s West Coast Office. To date, 100 have been confirmed as having the disease. This is an increase of a further 14 suspected cases on the previous week.

The outbreak continues to be centred in the Westland district with most cases occurring in older children, however, there have now been isolated cases in Buller and Grey districts.

Parents are urged to keep children home from school holiday programmes and to stay at home from work themselves, if they develop a persistent cough.

It is hoped that the measures being taken to contain the current pertussis outbreak will see a decline in case numbers in the near future.

Besides vaccination, steps people can take to help protect themselves and their families against pertussis and other respiratory diseases are:

Covering coughs and sneezes

Washing and drying hands thoroughly (20 seconds washing and 20 seconds drying) at times throughout the day particularly before eating and after being with someone who is coughing.

Staying away from school or work if they are unwell.

ends

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