WA Whooping cough vaccination program extended
A free whooping cough vaccination program for Western Australian parents of young babies has been extended for the third time and will now continue until December 31, 2012.
Western Australian Health Minister Kim Hames said while the number of whooping cough cases in WA had begun to decline, a more significant reduction was required before discontinuing the program.
Dr Hames encouraged parents, grandparents and household carers of newborns to take advantage of the free vaccine to help prevent the spread of whooping cough to newborn babies, the most vulnerable to the infection.
“Australian research has shown that about 50 per cent of babies who catch whooping cough get it from a family member, usually a parent,” he said.
“Often a parent [or grandparents] won’t even know they have the infection because they may have mild symptoms and don’t often produce the ‘whoop’ after a coughing spell, like young children and babies do.
“A vaccination will help protect parents from catching the infection and passing it on to their baby.”
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is an acute respiratory infection, transmitted from one person to another through respiratory droplets when an infected person talks, sneezes or coughs.
The classic ‘whooping’ sound associated with pertussis is created when a patient is forced to breathe in vigorously in order to catch their breath following an extended coughing fit.
Whooping cough can cause severe health problems in young babies, including pneumonia, seizures and, in some cases, permanent disability or death.
The free vaccine is available from WA maternity hospitals, community health centres & General Practice offices.
More information about the whooping cough vaccine can be found at: http://www.public.health.wa.gov.au/cproot/3581/2/adacel_CMI.pdf or by telephoning the WA Communicable Disease Control Directorate on 9388 4863
30 May 2012.