Valley's high vaccination rates keep whooping cough at bay
NORTH Coast Health has recommended ongoing vaccinations to stop the Coffs Harbour whooping cough outbreak spreading up to the Clarence Valley.
North Coast Public Health Unit director Paul Corben said this year there had been 76 cases of the illness on the Mid North Coast and 26 on the North Coast, but none in the Clarence Valley.
"What the Clarence has going for it is consistently high vaccination rates," Mr Corben said.
"We have what we call in the business 'herd immunity'.
"With a high level of vaccination coverage you have strong community protection."
Mr Corben said the cases were most prominent in Bellingen and Coffs Harbour and other population centres on the North Coast, including Woolgoolga.
"We haven't had a case in the Clarence since 2013 because of those vaccination rates," he said.
"But that does not mean there won't be future cases of whooping cough.
"As the protection wears off over time, you need to get a booster."
Mr Corben said outbreaks occurred when immunity wore out.
"These vaccinations are protecting babies who are too young to be vaccinated," he said.
He advised the community to maintain its great vaccination rate and also recommended pregnant woman to get vaccinated in their third trimester.
"It is free for children and pregnant women, and it's not terribly expensive to get it done otherwise."
Mr Corben said it was best to get a booster every 10 years to avoid infection.
The NSW Health website states whooping cough is spread when an infectious person coughs bacteria into the air.
People with whooping cough are infectious in the first three weeks of their illness if not treated early.
Whooping cough spreads easily through families, childcare centres and at school.
WHEN TO VAX
- Women in third trimester
- Two months
- Four months
- Six months
- Four years of age
- High school entry
- Anyone near babies under 12 months old.
- Get a booster every 10 years.
- Watch your symptoms if you are exposed to someone who has whooping cough early in their illness.