LETTER: The dangers of whooping cough for newborns

MY daughter recently had her first child.

At no stage during pregnancy or after birth was there any urgent emphasis placed on the danger of pertussis to newborns infants under the age of 4 months.

Every day at Shopping Squares there are tiny infants under 4 months old being exposed to the risk of pertussis.

Whooping cough/pertussis can be catastrophic to babies too young to have immunity.

Tragically we have all read of these infant mortalities and they are still occurring in Australia.

Immunity is conferred by vaccination. Vaccination is at 6-8 weeks, 4 month and 6 months.

Not until 2 weeks after the 4 month vaccination is a babe considered to have immunity.

If the mother has had a pertussis booster in her 3rd trimester of pregnancy, some of her antibodies are presumed to cross to the infant but there is no evidence yet to support any level of infant immunity from this.

At no time was my daughter advised to quarantine her baby until the 2nd vaccination at 4 months.

Booking her appointment for 6 week vaccinations, the clinic insisted on a preliminary appointment to take medical history (as a new patient - newborn!) followed by another appointment on a separate day for the vaccinations.

This in a clinic where pertussis has been confirmed "quite a few times recently"...... She travelled north to a Burleigh Heads clinic, staff were very well informed, efficient and sympathetic.

In this area of high risk, low childhood vaccination rates, it is a huge deficit in delivery of care to expect newborns to attend a general waiting room...twice!

We continue to fail our vulnerable newborns, as parents and as health professionals, by not placing more emphasis on this potentially catasrophic disease, through education, and increased vigilance.

Lynette Pearson