Whooping cough can be a life threatening infection in babies. Whooping cough in babies can lead to apnoea (pauses in normal breathing), pneumonia, feeding problems and weight loss, seizures, brain damage and, in some cases, death. Older children and adults can get whooping cough too and pass it on to babies.
Whooping cough vaccines provide good protection from infection but immunity fades which means that boosters are needed.
Free vaccine is provided through GPs and hospital antenatal clinics for pregnant women during each pregnancy
A booster for adults is recommended for:
If you have been exposed to someone with whooping cough early in their illness while they are infectious, watch out for symptoms and see your doctor if you get a new cough.
Some babies and some pregnant women need antibiotics to prevent whooping cough infection if they have had significant contact with an infectious person.
Your doctor may ask about your symptoms and whether you've had any contact with whooping cough. If your doctor thinks you have whooping cough, a swab from the back of the nose or throat can confirm the diagnosis.
Doctors and laboratories must confidentially notify cases of pertussis to the local public health unit. Public health unit staff can advise on the best way to stop further spread.
Infectious children are restricted from going to pre-school and school. Unimmunised contacts may be excluded from child care unless they take the special antibiotics.
For further information please call your local public health unit on 1300 066 055.