Date Published: 13 March 2009

NSW Health renews calls for adult vaccination

Health News from Australia.

NSW Health has today renewed calls for new parents, grandparents and adults who regularly care for infants less than 12 months to get vaccinated against whooping cough, publicising the offer of free booster vaccination and confirming stocks of vaccine are in supply.

Dr Kerry Chant, Chief Health Officer said public health officers are writing to all new parents across the State advising of arrangements for the free vaccine and contacting all GPs to encourage vaccination to stem the rise in whooping cough cases and protect infants under 12 months.

Dr Chant confirmed that general practitioners across NSW were advised on 10 March about the availability of free adult vaccine, ordering arrangements, and a new recommendation about the vaccination of children at six weeks of age.

The NSW Vaccine Centre has advised that as at 13 March - 16,650 doses of vaccine had been distributed under the program and that 51,384 are scheduled to be distributed by 17 March 2009.

NSW Health has available 200,000 doses of additional whooping cough vaccine and has sufficient doses in stock at the State Vaccine Centre to meet GP demand.

In January and February 2009 there have been 3,356 cases reported compared to 448 cases at the same time last year – that’s more than seven times more cases than we might expect to see,” Dr Chant said.

Earlier this week there was the tragic death of a four-week old baby following the complications of whooping cough.

This is a serious illness and NSW Health urges all new parents, grandparents and any other adult that regularly cares for infants less than 12 months of age, to get a free booster vaccine – available now from GPs."

NSW Health advises the symptoms of whooping cough include:

• Runny nose
• Tiredness
• Mild fever

Coughing bouts then develop followed by a big deep gasp that sometimes produces a whooping sound. Vomiting may follow these bouts of coughing. Adults often just have a cough without the whoop.

Whooping cough is easily spread to other people by droplets from coughing. So it is important that people are treated early with antibiotics to stop the spread of the disease.

NSW Health recommends that all children be given the combination vaccine to protect against six conditions including whooping cough – this vaccine is normally given at two months, four months and six months of age.

However in light of the current outbreak, parents and GPs are asked to bring the first dose forward to six weeks of age to provide earlier protection. A further vaccine is given at A further vaccine is given at age four years, with a booster due at age 15 through the school-based vaccination program.



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