Dear Parents & Caregivers,

Please find important information regarding Whooping Cough and Meningococcal Vaccinations

Whooping cough (also called pertussis) began increasing across NSW towards the end of 2018, especially in children between the ages of 5 and 14 years. NSW Health anticipates that this increase will continue into 2019.

School-aged children who are infected with whooping cough usually experience a troubling cough that can persist for months, however they rarely get severe illness. However they can spread the infection to younger siblings and other more vulnerable people, who are at higher risk of severe disease. Whooping cough can be a life threatening infection in babies.

What can you do to prevent whooping cough?

  1. Make sure vaccinations are up to date for all family members
  2. Be alert for symptoms of whooping cough
  3. Keep coughing kids home, to prevent them spreading the infection to others, and see your GP to get them tested for whooping cough
  4. For secondary schools: Meningococcal ACWY vaccines for students 15 years and over

A vaccine that protects against four strains of meningococcal disease will again be provided to secondary students in NSW via the NSW School Vaccination Program in 2019. Schools will soon distribute a vaccination consent card to all students in year 10, allowing them to receive the meningococcal ACWY (MenACWY) vaccine later in the year.

This vaccine is different to the meningococcal C (MenC) vaccine that children born between 2003 and 2018 were offered at the age of 12 months under the National Immunisation Program, as the MenACWY vaccine protects against an additional three strains of meningococcal disease).

The NSW School Vaccination Program has provided MenACWY vaccine to older adolescents – who are at increased risk of meningococcal disease – since 2017.

To ensure all older adolescents have the opportunity to protect themselves against meningococcal disease caused by strains A,C,W and Y, anyone between the ages of 15 and 19 years who missed the vaccine at school can access free vaccine from their GP..
Because even this vaccine does not protect against all strains of meningococcal, all people should be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease, even if they are vaccinated.

For more information on meningococcal disease and the NSW school vaccination program see the NSW Health website.

You can also find out about other important infectious disease alerts by visiting the alerts page.