Next time you go in for a peck on the beautiful cheek of a baby or toddler, ask yourself, could I accidentally put this child in danger?
Queensland has become the latest state to issue a warning about the serious infection caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis, which you probably know as “whooping cough”.
The warning comes after ten children under five have been reported to have the highly contagious and potentially fatal infection in the past six weeks. This is more than twice as many as last year.
A recent study in the US, which is also experiencing a similar spike in cases, has found that babies and children are most likely to contract whooping cough from family members, typically their sibling.
Queensland Health has urged people in regular contact with small children to ensure their vaccinations are up to date, and that includes grandparents.
The immunity we get when we are vaccinated against whooping cough is not life-long, and the ABC reports that adults who catch whooping cough after their childhood vaccinations have worn off are an increased source of infection for newborns.
People of any age can get whooping cough, and it causes severe coughing fits followed by a whooping sound when the person or child breathes in. A baby died earlier this year from the disease, and its resurgence has sparked debates about those who choose not to vaccinate their children putting others at risk.
A woman who shared a video of her tiny baby having a coughing fit due to whooping cough, urging other parents to vaccinate their children. She wrote, “I don’t care whether you want to try and prove to me that vaccinations and herd immunities don’t work. I don’t care that vaccinations have side effects, because every person in this world reacts differently to all types of food, products and medicines. I could not care less, even if it is ever proven one day that they don’t work.
“You know why? Because at least at the end of the day I tried to do something to prevent this and not sit there and say ‘oh well, vaccinations don’t work so I’ll just sit here and do nothing’… because doing nothing goes against every cell in my body as a mother. Doing nothing is just wrong.”
Did you realise you needed to update your whooping cough vaccination to ensure you don’t pass it on to vulnerable babies? Have you already done so?