New whooping cough warnings

Parents are again being urged to vaccinate their children – and themselves – against whooping cough following a 70% increase in reported cases.

This year, more than almost 2300 cases of whooping cough have been reported in Victoria alone, an increase of 1000 from the same time last year.

Dr Stephen Parnis of the Australian Medical Association told Seven News that death from whooping cough was entirely avoidable.

“One of the concerns we have is that herd immunity is decreasing,” he said.

Herd immunity occurs when a high enough proportion of the population is immunised, providing a measure of protection for those that are unable to receive vaccinations.

Pregnant women are being encouraged to receive a booster injection during the third trimester to ensure they are protected against the disease when their baby is most vulnerable.

“The fatality rate for pertussis is around one in 500,” says Obstetrician Dr Brad Robinson.

“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.”

Routine vaccination, including of children, adolescents, and pregnant women, is the single most most important strategy to prevent the spread of whooping cough.

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