A recent pertussis (whooping cough) ­epidemic in which a newborn baby died in Melbourne in February 2011 has prompted calls for more widespread vaccination.

Pertussis usually starts with a cold. The cough gradually worsens and severe coughing bouts may develop and are sometimes followed by vomiting and a ‘whooping’ sound when breathing in. The cough can last many weeks.

Young babies are most at risk, especially before getting vaccinated. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia and brain damage and can be life-threatening in the first few months of life.

Protect your baby

Make sure your baby is vaccinated on time so he/she is protected as soon as possible. The vaccine is given at 2, 4 and 6 months of age and protection develops after the ­second shot. Keep your baby away from anyone with a cough.

Older children can catch pertussis at school and bring it home to the baby. Make sure they receive a booster at age 4 and in high school.

Protect adults

Immunity to pertussis fades after 5-10 years and many adults are no longer protected.

Adults who are in contact with infants are the main source of infection and should be vaccinated especially parents, grandparents and carers, couples planning a pregnancy, child care workers and health care workers.

Free pertussis vaccine is available for some adults but this varies from state to state.

More Information


Please note this information was correct at time of publication.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.

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