13 August, 2015

Whooping Cough – The Facts

Whooping cough or pertussis is an extremely contagious and potentially fatal respiratory infection spread by tiny drops of fluid that are released into the air by other people’s coughs and sneezes. The disease causes severe, prolonged bouts of coughing and can rarely lead to serious complications such as pneumonia convulsions, brain damage and death. People of all ages can contract whooping cough, however babies are particularly vulnerable to infection – roughly one in two hundred babies under the age of six months who become infected with whooping cough will die from the disease.

In the wake of the tragic death of four-week-old Riley Hughes, together with a recent surge in the reported cases of whooping cough, expectant parents and parents of newborns will have access to a free whooping cough vaccine as of June 1st, 2015 under the Victorian government’s vaccination program. The Boostrix® vaccine, which is used as a booster to protect against three diseases – diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) – is recommended to pregnant women during their third trimester (from 28 weeks) and in every subsequent pregnancy. Immunity acquired by mothers from the vaccine, is then passed onto the baby via the placenta, protecting the infant until he or she is old enough to receive their first immunisation at six weeks of age.

To get the Boostrix® vaccine, speak to your GP at a routine antenatal visit when you are between 28 and 38 weeks pregnant.