Parents of babies and young children are reminded to vaccinate themselves for whooping cough (pertussis), with the number of cases at an alarming five year high to date.

There have been 1,447 cases notified this year to date, around 160 more cases than at the same time last year and an increase of more than 260 per cent at this time in 2014.

Health authorities believe this number could climb given thirty-five people were reported with whooping cough this week alone.


Whooping cough kills about 250,000 children worldwide every year and many surviving children are left with brain damage. Other serious complications include pneumonia, bleeding into the nose, eyes or brain and the development of hernias.

Children should receive the pertussis vaccine at six weeks, four months and six months, followed by boosters at 18 months, four years old and during high school.

The State Government provides the vaccine for free for women in their third trimester of pregnancy in order to provide the best protection to newborn babies who are most vulnerable to this disease.

Booster vaccinations are recommended for those people aged 50 and 65 years if they have not received a whooping cough vaccination in the previous 10 years, as well as all healthcare workers, childcare workers, parents, grandparents and carers of infants.

Quotes attributable to Health Minister Peter Malinauskas

This year we’ve already seen nearly 1500 South Australians struck down with this highly infectious, serious respiratory infection.

The increase in cases is a serious reminder for people to ensure their children have the recommended vaccinations and to be vigilant about the spread of germs.

Whooping cough is very severe and can be life threatening in babies and young children, but thankfully, it is also vaccine preventable.

The State Government provides vaccinations for whooping cough free of charge to pregnant women, so I urge all expectant mothers to speak to their doctor about getting a booster shot during their third trimester to avoid contracting this disease.

Quotes attributable to SA Health Chief Medical Officer Professor Paddy Phillips

Whooping cough starts like a typical cold, but is usually followed by long periods of dry coughing which can sometimes produce the signature whooping sound.

The recent cases are a reminder to be vigilant about the spread of germs and for people to cover their nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, dispose of used tissues and wash their hands to reduce the spread of infection.

Vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of whooping cough, however many people who have had the vaccination don’t realise their immunity wanes over time.

I would encourage all parents to ensure their children are appropriately vaccinated for their age and for those people who spend time with young children to discuss the need for a booster vaccination with their GP.

Pertussis cases over the past five years

   2012  2013  2014  2015  2016  2017
 Cases notified to 21 October  724  581  400  861  1286  1447
 Year total   922  820  505  1297  1943  1447*

*notified cases to 21 October