Babies at risk in Auckland epidemic

By Ewan McDonald

An epidemic of whooping cough - which has killed two babies in New Zealand recently - is worrying health authorities in Auckland.

Many people don't think their cough is serious enough to go to the doctor, the experts say.

Whooping cough is a highly infectious and serious illness. It is particularly serious for babies under 1 year of age. One in four babies in Auckland are not fully immunised by six months of age. This puts these babies at increased risk of getting whooping cough, the authorities say.

Dr Catherine Jackson, Medical Officer of Health at the Auckland Regional Public Health Services says: "The number of people with whooping cough is very high, and we are not seeing the full picture as many people do not think they are sick enough to see their doctor for a nagging cough."

To keep whanau safe, children must be vaccinated on time. Families expecting a new baby, or who have a baby under 12 months old, should check that all their family members and visitors to the baby have had the whooping cough vaccination in the last five years.

If you are not sure if your children are fully vaccinated, check their Well Child/Tamariki Ora Health Book, or ask your family doctor or practice nurse, Dr Jackson says.

Vaccination for all children is free, and women in their seventh month of pregnancy can now have a free vaccination from their family doctor.

Dr Jackson urges: if you feel sick with a cold - runny nose, slight fever and an irritating cough you might have whooping cough, so you must stay away from babies and see your family doctor.

More information:

- The Aucklander

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