Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew says despite a drop in the number of whooping cough cases being reported, it is still a threat to babies.
“Whooping cough is a serious infectious disease that affects all age groups and is most often severe in very young children,” says Mrs Goodhew.
“Whooping cough often occurs in epidemic cycles lasting two to five years. The current epidemic in New Zealand began in August 2011.
“Numbers are now declining to levels similar to those seen before the present epidemic, but it’s not disappearing. Since August 2011 there have been more than 11,500 cases reported and almost 700 hospitalisations.
“Although the number of reported cases is declining, the advice for those potentially at risk remains the same – get immunised on time, every time.”
All babies in New Zealand should be immunised against whooping cough as part of their free childhood immunisations. Babies are not protected until they’ve had all 3 doses – at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months old. Booster doses are given to children when they’re 4 and 11 years old.
“To protect infants before they are old enough to be vaccinated themselves, mothers-to-be can receive a free booster vaccination during pregnancy,” says Mrs Goodhew.
“Families should also make sure that a baby’s siblings are up to date with their vaccinations, as are any caregivers or close relatives.”
Further information about whooping cough can be found on the Ministry of Health website, www.health.govt.nz, or by calling Healthline (0800 611 116).
Media contact: Angela Kenealy 021 220 0129