Northland DHB Medical Officer of Health Jonathan Jarman is urging parents to check their children are up to date and 'on-time' with their immunizations, with an increase in cases of Whooping cough in the region
Since the start of the year there have been 47 reported cases of whooping cough.�� The youngest case was 22 days old and the oldest was aged 71 years old. In the past week the number of reported cases has risen by a further six cases, three of these being young children.
In 2011 there were only 10 cases for the whole year.
Dr Jarman says timely Immunisation is the best protection against vaccine-preventable diseases like Whooping Cough, also known as Pertussis - the first vaccines need to be given at 6 weeks of age.
"The most dangerous age for complications is children aged under one year.� There have already been five cases in this age group so far this year and two needed to be hospitalised.
The violence of the coughing is what does the most damage in babies.� Young children often stop breathing and turn blue after coughing, the coughing is worse at night and can last for many weeks", said Dr Jarman.
Adults also catch whooping cough, and it is through adult cases which most young children are exposed and catch their illness.�
Booster vaccinations are available for adults and are recommended for those who work or live with infants. Unfortunately while vaccinations for children are free, there is no government subsidy for adults who will need to pay.
Whooping cough starts like the 'flu but after a few days the bouts of coughing start. The whoop is seen in about a half of children but only about one in ten adults have the characteristic whooping sound at the end of the coughing bouts. Some people vomit at the end of the coughing and this is very suggestive of whooping cough.
The key to best protection is vaccinations being given 'on-time'. Some parents opt to postpone their childs immunisation appointments due to a runny nose or a cold. But rather than postpone the immunization, Dr Jarman urges parents to speak with their GP,
"If you are unsure, talk to your family doctor or nurse. They can advise whether it is still safe to immunize or make an alternate arrangement. Immunisation is free, safe and when a child is vaccinated on time, every time - very effective", Dr Jarman added.
More information about immunisation and the National Immunisation Schedule is available at http://www.moh.govt.nz/immunisation. ?
The Immunisation Advisory Centre offers independent advice about immunisation through its toll-free line 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863) and at its website http://www.immune.org.nz.
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