Parents urged to vaccinate after death of infant

The devastated parents of four week old Riley Hughes, who tragically died after contracting Whooping Cough, have pleaded with families to vaccinate their children, in the hope their little boy’s death would not be in vain.

Riley’s passing has put whooping cough back into the spotlight, sparking fears the contagious disease is once again on the rise.

There have been 2893 cases of whooping cough in Australia so far this year, up 300 per cent on rates for the same period last year.

At just 32 days old, little Riley was too young to receive the vaccine, highlighting the importance of vRiley Hughesaccination in children and adolescents, as well as boosters for adults.

“Routine vaccination, including of children, adolescents, and pregnant women, is the single most important strategy to prevent infection with this pathogen,” says obstetrician Dr Brad Robinson.

“Childhood and adolescent immunisations are one of the most effective means of preventing serious illness.”

The fatality rate for whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is around one in 500.

However, mortality is higher among infants younger than three months of age.

“Infants younger than one year, particularly those younger than four months, are at higher risk of severe pertussis infections, and also the complications from these infections.

“Infected infants can develop serious complications, ranging from failure to thrive, and breathlessness, through to pneumonia, respiratory failure, and death.”

Whooping cough is an acute respiratory illness caused by a lung infection with the bacteria Bordetella pertussis, resulting in prolonged illness.

Throughout much of this prolonged illness, the infected individual is contagious.

The Australian immunisation schedule advises vaccination at two, four and six months, and four years of age. The pertussis vaccine is not a live agent. It contains immune stimulants, but is not able to actually cause the infection.

“These acellular pertussis-containing vaccines produce fewer local reactions, fever, and systemic symptoms.”

The five-round vaccine for children is free, funded by the state government.

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