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Pertussis clinical update

On behalf of Te Whatu Ora | 4th April 2023

Te Whatu Ora is encouraging healthcare providers and professionals to be alert to the symptoms of pertussis/whooping cough and to encourage prenatal and scheduled childhood immunisations.


This comes following the recent tragic death of another infant from pertussis, following two announced by Te Whatu Ora on 9 March. This third death is not related to the two earlier deaths.


There have been 11 cases of whooping cough in 2023 so far. The ratio of fatalities to cases is much higher than in previous years, suggesting there is undetected spread in the community.


Pertussis is serious in very young children – during the last outbreak from October 2017 to May 2019, 50% of children with pertussis, who were aged under 1 year old, required hospitalisation.


Vaccination

Free antenatal pertussis vaccination, with Boostrix®, is available from general practice and through many pharmacies across New Zealand. It can be given from the second trimester of every pregnancy and is recommended to have from 16 weeks, but at least 2 weeks before birth.

Immunisation is available at medical centres, Hauora and Pacific health providers and at some pharmacies and free for:

  • Babies at six weeks, three months and five months. Booster doses are then given at four and 11 years old

  • Pregnant people for every pregnancy, from 16 weeks

  • Adults at 45 and 65 years of age (same vaccine as the tetanus booster)

  • Some groups who are at higher risk of becoming very unwell if they catch whooping cough.

Pertussis vaccination should be encouraged for the extended whānau of pregnant people, new babies and infants although depending on their age they may not be eligible for a funded vaccine.

It is safe to get the vaccination again if you aren’t sure.




More information

Pertussis clinical update FINAL 4-4
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