There have been five confirmed cases of whooping cough in Tairāwhiti in the past month including two 2 year olds and a baby. This is much higher than usual, and it’s likely there are other cases in the community.
Whooping cough can be a very serious illness in young babies, who need protection from getting this disease.
The best way to protect babies is to get their immunisations on time. If the mother gets immunised in late pregnancy, this provides additional protection.
People who have a prolonged cough should get checked out by their doctor and stay away from young children.
Adults do not always get the typical symptoms of ‘whooping’ or vomiting after coughing spells but can still pass it on to others.
With 23 recent cases in the Bay of Plenty, health workers in Tairāwhiti are preparing for the possibility of measles cases here.
Measles is a highly infectious illness which can be much more serious than people realise.
About one person in ten with measles needs to stay in hospital with complications including pneumonia and sometimes brain inflammation.
In Auckland this year, it has been reported that half of measles cases have needed hospitalisation.
Like whooping cough, measles can be prevented by on-time immunisation.
Medical officer of health Margot McLean says that immunisation rates here are not high enough to prevent outbreaks of these serious diseases.
“Parents sometimes get scared by negative information about vaccines on social media. They may not realise that the vaccines are made to prevent very serious illnesses. These illnesses are making a comeback because of our low rates of immunisation. Childhood vaccinations are all free and if children have missed vaccinations they go to their health centre and get caught up.”