April 14, 2015

Whooping cough is easy to prevent

Booster vaccination of the people who come into contact with newborns is recommended to reduce the risk of it being passed on.

New parents and grandparents should speak to their doctors about getting re-vaccinated to help protect newborn children against whooping cough.


Parents should also ensure that babies, children and adolescents are themselves vaccinated against whooping cough on time. In New Zealand, vaccination against whooping cough is provided free for babies at 6 weeks, 3 and 5 months of age, children at 4 years old and again at 11 years old.  Until they have completed their first course of whooping cough vaccinations at 5 months of age, newborn babies remain vulnerable to infection.  That's why vaccination of adults who are in close contact with newborn babies is so important.


Help stop the spread of whooping cough

  • Make sure all your children are up to date with their immunisations.
  • Keep your baby away from anyone with a cough.
  • If you have a cough yourself, stay away from babies.
  • If you’ve got a cough that won’t go away, see your doctor.


All babies in New Zealand can be immunised against whooping cough as part of their free childhood immunisations.

It’s important to protect babies from whooping cough by getting them immunised on time. They’re not protected until they’ve had all 3 doses – at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months old.

Booster doses are given to children when they’re 4 and 11 years old.

What if my child is behind with their vaccinations?

If your baby or child hasn’t been immunised, talk to your GP or practice nurse. They can arrange a time for your child to be immunised. It’s never too late to catch up. Whooping cough vaccine is free for all children under 16.

Who else is the vaccine recommended for?

Pregnant women can get a whooping cough booster vaccination for free.

Other adults can receive booster vaccinations for a cost. Immunisation is recommended if:

  • your work involves regular contact with infants
  • you live with or care for infants under 12 months of age – even if the baby has been fully immunised.

Boosters should also be considered for other people who are vulnerable to whooping cough and at high risk of severe illness or complications (eg, those with chronic respiratory conditions, congenital heart disease or immunodeficiency).


This disease is covered on the New Zealand Immunisation Schedule. The vaccines used are INFANRIX®- hexa, INFANRIX-IPV™ and Boostrix™.

Boostrix is a combined adult booster vaccine against whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus.Boostrix is funded for all New Zealand children at 11 years of age as part of the immunisation schedule. It is also funded for pregnant women between 28 and 38 weeks gestation until the current whooping cough outbreak is over. Boostrix is right for you. A whooping cough booster is recommended (but not funded) for close adult contacts of newborns, including parents and family, healthcare professionals who work closely with infants, and early childhood educators.

How effective is the vaccine?

Around 84% of babies are protected once they’ve completed 3 doses of vaccine (at 6 weeks, and 3 and 5 months of age).

Protection wanes over time. People can get whooping cough some years later, even if they’ve been immunised or have had it before. That’s why it’s important for 4 and 11-year-olds to have booster immunisations.

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