Whooping cough cases are going down in the Bay of Plenty, but parents should still be making sure to vaccinate their babies on schedule, the medical officer of health says.

So far this year there have been nine cases of whooping cough in the Bay.

There was a New Zealand-wide whooping cough epidemic from 2011 to 2013, peaking in 2012. In the Bay, there were 67 cases of whooping cough in 2013 between January and March.

Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service medical officer of health Neil de Wet said there had been an average of 16 whooping cough cases a year since the epidemic. During the epidemic, it was about four times more.


"The message is, we're not in an epidemic at the moment, but there is still a fair amount of pertussis [whooping cough] in the community.

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"The good news is our immunisation rates for children are much higher than they used to be. On average, they're around 90 per cent. We'd like to get to 95per cent, but 90 per cent is very good coverage."

Dr de Wet said those most at risk of contracting whooping cough were children under a year old. The younger they were, the more at risk they were of severe illness, he said.

"The really important message for vaccinations for whooping cough is parents should not delay their immunisations, which start at six weeks."

Dr de Wet said it was also important for pregnant women to be immunised when they were between 28 weeks and 38 weeks pregnant.

"Their immunisation helps protect their newborn child."

The immunisation was also recommended for adults in contact with young children and babies.

Sonya Bateson