Elisa Pechler, her son Benjamin and Child Health Nurse Unit Manager Michelle Maike discuss the whooping cough vaccine. Ms Pechler is taking up the free offer to be vaccinated.
Elisa Pechler, her son Benjamin and Child Health Nurse Unit Manager Michelle Maike discuss the whooping cough vaccine. Ms Pechler is taking up the free offer to be vaccinated. SUBMITTED

Ward off the cough with vaccine

MOTHER Elisa Pechler knows the dangers of whooping cough and is taking up the offer of a free vaccination to protect son Benjamin.

Babies are at risk of serious illness if their parents are not vaccinated against whooping cough.

The Queensland Government introduced a new program in August for parents of babies born from May 1, 2009.

The free vaccination is being offered to new parents like Ms Pechler because babies cannot be fully vaccinated until six months, when they have their last three shots.

Michelle Maike, the Bundaberg Hospital Child Health nurse unit manager, said from January to October there were 437 notifications of whooping cough in Queensland in children aged less than five years, including 110 infants less than six months.

The Wide Bay region received 12 notifications of the disease in November and 10 in December.

“The whooping cough epidemic we have seen this year is continuing for longer than expected, with 65 cases recorded for the week to November 8, taking the total for the year to 5000,” she said.

Mrs Maike said those figures were well above the average of 1759 from the previous five years.

“Three babies have died in Australia in the past year after contracting the illness and this year more than 15,000 adults and children nationally have been diagnosed,” she said.

Parents or adults interested in the vaccination can discuss it with their family doctor or immunisation provider.



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