In a bid to fight the country's whooping cough epidemic, an Auckland nurse is ensuring her entire family is immunised against the disease.

New Zealand experiences an outbreak of whooping cough every three to five years. The latest outbreak began in August 2011 and since then more than 11,200 cases have been reported.

Last month, Gillian Davies gathered her daughter, son-in-law and his brothers, her husband, her son and son's partner at East Tamaki Healthcare's clinic in Otara to vaccinate them herself.

The clinical services manager at the clinic said the birth of her first grandchild and the strong evidence around "cocooning" prompted the vaccination drive.


Associate Professor at Auckland University and Starship Hospital Consultant paediatrician Cameron Grant said it was important to create a cocoon of contacts who were immunised.

"This is the concept of herd immunity, whereby all those in the community who can be immunised are, therefore rendering them incapable of passing the disease to the vulnerable."

Children younger than a year old were at the highest risk of developing serious complications such as pneumonia and brain damage from whooping cough, according to the Ministry of Health.

All pregnant women between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy and all children as part of their childhood immunisations were eligible for free vaccinations against whooping cough.

Mrs Davies hoped to immunise the rest of the family, including both great-grandparents over the next few weeks.