We're not off to a good start.
That's Toi Te Ora – Public Health Service Medical Officer of Health Dr Phil Shoemack assessment of the number of small children who've been admitted to hospital with whooping cough already this year.
“In the first seven weeks of 2017 we've been notified of seven cases of whooping cough in the Bay of Plenty, two of these are babies.”
Whooping cough is a highly infectious and distressing illness caused by bacteria spread by coughing and sneezing, like colds and influenza. Symptoms start with a runny nose, fever, and a dry cough that gets worse over the following weeks and develops into coughing attacks, and sometimes vomiting.
The ‘whoop' sound occurs as a baby draws a breath after a long coughing attack. Babies under one year are most at risk of serious complications from the illness such as pneumonia and brain damage.
According to figures provided by Toi Te Ora in February, the service was notified of 95 people with whooping cough in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts in 2016, up dramatically from 34 in 2015
Of the 95 cases last year, 10 were babies aged one year and under and 11 were young children aged one to four-years-old.
“With children now back at school and preschool, it's a good time to check your family is up to date with all immunisations. If a scheduled immunisation has been missed, or you are unsure whether a family member is immunised, contact your family doctor or practice nurse.
“It's never too late to catch up.”
FREE VACCINATIONS FOR PREGNANT WOMEN
Immunising against whooping cough during pregnancy protects about 90 per cent of babies in their first few weeks of life.
For Tauranga mum Jamie-Lee MacInnes, who has two pre-schoolers and a baby on the way, getting the free booster vaccination was a “no-brainer”.
“The last thing I need is having a sick baby with whooping cough, when I can easily reduce the risk and protect my baby by being immunised.”
Pregnant women can get a whooping cough booster vaccination for free, between 28-38 weeks of pregnancy, as this is the time when mama can pass her immunity on to baby and help protect them until they are old enough to be vaccinated against whooping cough themselves.
“All my kids have been immunised, my daughter Aneeqah had her shots last week, now it's my turn,” says Jamie-Lee who had her whooping cough booster vaccination through immunisations services provided by the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation.
Immunisation Coordinator Diane Newland says women should talk to their family GP practice about the Boostrix vaccine and when it is the right time to have this.
“Staff there will also be able to talk about immunisations for your baby and the importance of getting these on time at six weeks, three months and five months old.”
Adults who are in contact with babies under 12 months of age should also consider getting the whooping cough booster vaccination for babies protection.