Info for new parents
Whooping cough is spread easily by coughing, and babies are at risk of severe illness if infected. Older children and adults can often get whooping cough too and they can pass the infection on to babies.
Anyone with symptoms of whooping cough should see their doctor early for diagnosis and treatment. It's especially important to see a doctor early if your baby is unwell.
Your GP can provide more information about whooping cough and vaccination.
Protect your baby
Vaccinate your baby on time. Your baby will have the best protection after they have received all 3 doses at two, four and six months of age (the first dose can be given as early as 6 weeks of age to get the best protection).
Protect older children
Older siblings can catch whooping cough at school and pass it on at home. Everyone in your household should be up to date with their whooping cough vaccines. This means that they will be less likely to get whooping cough and bring it home to the baby. Older children need a booster dose at 4 years (can be given from 3½ years). Another whooping cough booster is given in high school.
Parents and carers are sometimes the source of whooping cough and pass it on at home.
From 1 July 2012, new mothers in NSW are eligible for free whooping cough vaccine in the maternity unit after the birth of their children or, if this is not possible, free vaccine is available from their GP within 1-2 weeks after the birth.
This more focused whooping cough control strategy is based on evidence that mothers are at the greatest risk of spreading the disease to their baby. Ideally, women should be vaccinated before the pregnancy but, if not, then as soon as possible after the birth.
Fathers and other adults who are anticipated to care regularly for young babies should talk to their GP about the benefits of getting an adult whooping cough vaccine. Since very young babies are at greatest risk, and the vaccine takes several days to take effect, adults should be vaccinated prior to the birth or as early as possible after the birth.
Keep your baby away from anyone with a cough
If you or your child has been diagnosed with whooping cough - stay away from work, school or childcare until your doctor tells you it's safe to return (normally after 5 days of antibiotics). This means that there is less chance of passing the infection on to other people.