Whooping Cough (Pertussis) in ECE and Schools

Auckland Regional Public Health Services advises that pertussis (whooping cough) is in the community and the number of cases in schools has increased over the last two months. Pertussis is a highly infectious disease and can cause serious illness for some people. In the last 12 months, 1 in 6 cases has needed hospital treatment.

Vaccination is free and offers the best protection against this disease – research shows vaccination is safe and effective. Four and 11 year olds are both eligible for a free booster dose – see your GP promptly to book this in. Children who have missed any doses are also able to get free immunisations, please check with your doctor if you are unsure of your child’s vaccination history.

If your child has symptoms of pertussis please keep them at home away from school. Pertussis starts like a cold with a runny nose, cough, and fever and is spread by coughing. After 7-10 days the cough becomes more severe and prolonged coughing spasms occur that may end with a whoop, dry retching or vomiting.

Pertussis in schools can be disruptive as students have to catch up on weeks of school work after falling ill and teachers need to work harder to support them. Pertussis disrupts families who need to make arrangements for childcare and doctors’ visits when their children are diagnosed.

If you or your children are experiencing symptoms or you want more information visit your doctor or call Healthline for advice on 0800-611 116.

If any of your school staff are pregnant or have a baby at home please ensure they receive the following messages from Auckland Regional Public Health.

  • Protect yourself and your baby and see your GP for a free vaccination in your third trimester (28–38 weeks). Protect new babies by immunising on time at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months.
  • Check that your baby’s brothers and sisters have been vaccinated for pertussis at 4 years and 11 years. A GP can provide catch-up doses if required.
  • Have adults in your family been immunised in the last five years? 80 percent of infants catch pertussis from a parent or other family member.

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a serious disease in children under 12 months old. For every 100 infants under 12 months old who are infected, around 70 will be hospitalised, seven will require intensive care and there is a small, but very real risk of permanent medical complications or death.