Winter is here in full swing, and with it comes the cold and flu. People usually either take flu vaccinations, or just bear the onslaught of cold and fever, hoping that it would go away as usual.
However, there is a prominence of Whooping Cough in New Zealand, which can be mistaken for winter cold.
Whooping Cough (pertussis) is highly infectious bacterial disease, easily spread through coughing and sneezing.
This cough usually infects the most vulnerable people – babies and young children, elderly and those with chronic illness.
The cases of Whooping Cough are increasing in Auckland, and the regional healthcare provider is aksing the public to take extra precautions against exposing those at risk of the disease.
Whooping Cough may start as an annoying cough initially, may not cause severe illness and might be disregarded, says Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS).
The problem lies in the fact that many infants who catch whooping cough get it from a parent, caregiver or older brother or sisters.
A good general rule is that if you have a cough you should stay away from babies and infants, says Dr Andrew Lindsay, Medical Officer of Health at ARPHS.
“If your work brings you into contact with babies, infants or pregnant women, get a whooping cough booster vaccination every 10 years.”
If your child develops a cough, even if your child has been vaccinated for whooping cough, it is important to see your doctor.
This is because immunity to whooping cough decreases over time and the vaccine does not give 100% protection.
On time vaccination is the best way to protect babies and infants. The free vaccination programme in children starts at six weeks then followed at three months and then at five months of age.
Babies will not be protected until they have received all three doses.
If you are not sure if your child’s vaccinations are up to date – ask your doctor.
Just as important is the vaccination of those who may pass the disease to an infant or other vulnerable people.
Andrew encourages those who have regular contact with newborns to consider getting themselves vaccinated as an added protection.