Medical Questions » Vaccinations, Children Questions » Question No. 1004
Question:I have never heard of any child catching whooping cough, but my doctor is insisting that my baby has this vaccine. Is whooping cough vaccination still necessary?
Answer:There is no treatment available to cure this distressing disease, but it may be completely prevented. Even so, increasingly large numbers of children are being left unprotected because their parents forget to obtain the necessary course of injections, or are poorly informed. Whooping cough is not a disease of the past. Hundreds of Australian children contract the disease every year, and many of them die or are left as invalids. The bacteria that causes the infection is widespread in the community, and adults may have the disease and consider it merely a cold. Only in young children is the disease severe, and it is therefore important to start vaccinations as early as possible. The vaccination against whooping cough is invariably combined with those for tetanus and diphtheria, and is given at two, four, six and 18 months of age. This triple vaccine has minimal side effects, and the most common ones are a slight fever for 6 to 24 hours after the needle, and sometimes prolonged crying. Any other risks are minimal, and certainly far rarer than the serious complications of any of these three diseases. If the child has a fever or other illness, the vaccination may be delayed for a few days until he or she has recovered. The only children who should not be vaccinated are those with febrile convulsions, a history of epilepsy and allergies to certain elements of the vaccine.
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