'Whooping cough vaccine wears off'
A WHOOPING cough outbreak on the North Coast has led to a renewed call for vaccinations from health authorities.
The director of public health for the northern NSW and Mid North Coast local health districts, Paul Corben, said a 50% rise in reported cases between Tweed Heads and Port Macquarie this year has concerned health workers.
"We do sometimes see periodic surges on the number of cases as the protection you get from either having the vaccination or the disease wears off over time," he said.
Mr Corben said the health department recommended immunising babies at six weeks of age, then again at four months and six months, with a booster shot at four years of age.
"We also offer free booster shots to Year 7 and Year 10 students at high school," he said.
"And if people are planning a family, or have a new baby in the house, we recommend they have their vaccination renewed at that time."
Free vaccine is also available for new parents, grandparents and anyone who regularly cares for a baby less than 12 months of age.
So far this year 772 cases of whooping cough have been diagnosed from Port Macquarie to Tweed Heads on the NSW-Queensland border, with 493 cases between the Tweed and the Clarence.
"One of the reasons we think we're seeing more whooping cough reported across the world is because of new, less-invasive diagnostic techniques," he said.
"The other thing people need to be aware of is if they have whooping cough and it's not treated they'll be infectious to others for three weeks, though they might cough for longer."