Whooping cough information for schools

There is an outbreak of whooping cough (pertussis) in NSW, mainly affecting school-aged children.


Coughing spreads the infection to others nearby. Whooping cough can spread to anyone at home, including younger brothers and sisters. Whooping cough can be especially dangerous for babies.


Whooping cough starts like a cold and progresses to bouts of coughing that can last for many weeks. The infection can occur even in fully-vaccinated children. Older children may just have a cough that is persistent and may be worse at night.

  • Children with these symptoms should see a doctor.
  • If your doctor diagnoses whooping cough in your school-aged child, please let the school know and keep your child at home until they have taken five days of antibiotics. Keep coughing children away from babies.
  • Whooping cough vaccines give good protection against infection but immunity fades with time. Check that all your children are up to date with their vaccines, due at 6 weeks, 4 months, 6 months, 4 years and 12 years of age (offered to all Year 7 students through the NSW school-based vaccination program). A booster is also recommended at 18 months of age.

A booster dose of vaccine is also recommended for adults that are in contact with young children, such as school staff and parents. Pregnant women are recommended to have a booster dose during each pregnancy and this is funded by NSW Health. Those who are new parents or carers of babies should consult their general practitioner about appropriate immunisation.


Your local public health unit can provide advice about whooping cough on 1300 066 055 or visit the NSW Health website http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/whoopingcough/Pages/Information-for-childcare-and-schools.aspx




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