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This section contains media releases released a little while ago. Please note that due to the long time when some of these were released images have been removed and some links might no longer work.

September 30, 2011

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Update (2)

Steps to protect young children and babies have been announced as part of the health sector approach to combat the current pertussis outbreak on the West Coast.

A free booster vaccine will be available to health care and early childhood education staff who work with this age group. Anyone living with a baby under the age of six months will also be able to access the free vaccine through their General Practice. This includes parents, other adults and siblings.

Dr Cheryl Brunton, the West Coast Medical Officer of Health, says the very young are the most vulnerable to the potentially severe outcomes of contracting pertussis (whooping cough) so we are asking those who most commonly come into contact with this vulnerable group to protect them by having the booster vaccine themselves.

Because pertussis immunity wanes with age, older people can contract pertussis and pass it on to others even if they have been immunised or had the disease as a child.

Between 1st May 2011 and 25 September 2011 there have been 175 notifications of suspected pertussis received by Community & Public Health's West Coast Office. To date, 84 have been confirmed as having the disease. This is an increase of a further 20 cases on the previous week. The outbreak continues to be centred in the Westland district with most cases occurring in children.

Parents are urged to keep children home from school or preschool and to stay at home from work themselves, if they develop a persistent cough. "The incubation period for pertussis ranges from 5-21 days. So if someone goes to work, school or pre-school with a persistent cough, by the time they find out they have pertussis the damage has probably been done as far as spreading it to other children and workmates.

"It's really important to see your doctor early if you are unwell with a persistent cough so that you can be assessed and treated with antibiotics if necessary, to help to prevent spread of this disease", Dr Brunton said.

Dr Brunton said," The best long-term protection against pertussis is still on-time childhood immunisation." Immunised children may still develop whooping cough but it is usually not so severe. Immunisation against pertussis is free as part of the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule.

The other steps people can take to help protect themselves and their families against pertussis and other respiratory diseases are:

  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Washing and drying hands thoroughly (20 seconds washing and 20 seconds drying) at times throughout the day particularly before eating and after being with someone who is coughing
  • Staying away from school or work if they are unwell


For further information please contact

Bryan Jamieson
Community Liaison Officer
West Coast DHB
PO Box 387
Greymouth 7840
Phone (DDI): (03) 769-7665
Mobile: 027 245-9595
Email: This is not a link as we want to prevent spam.  Please transfer the email address on the image carefully into your email client before sending the email.  You might find, with some older email addresses on this site that they are no longer current, for staff-change reasons.  If your email bounces back please contact the WCDHB Communications Team - see Contacts section of this site.

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