Public Health Nurse Teresa McGorm with Dr Priya Janagaraj … encouraging residents to get flu vaccinations (Photo: DDH)

May 21, 2024

South Burnett residents are being encouraged to take action to protect themselves against respiratory illnesses including influenza and whooping cough this winter.

A Darling Downs Health spokesperson said there has been ongoing rise of whooping cough cases in the health region, mainly in school-aged children.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 180 cases of whooping cough have been confirmed in the Darling Downs Health region.

As the disease has been presenting mildly in school-aged children, students have been attending school and community events. Unfortunately, this is causing people to unknowingly spread the illness to vulnerable people in the community.

Darling Downs Health said it was important for parents to get their children tested if they have an ongoing cough and if whooping cough is found, to get treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of spreading the illness.

A person with whooping cough is infectious for 21 days after the onset of a cough or five days after commencing antibiotics.

Darling Downs Public Health Physician Dr Priya Janagaraj said it was especially important for infants and pregnant mothers to get vaccinated as the disease could cause severe illness in infants under six months.

“The whooping cough vaccine is available for all pregnant mothers from 20 weeks onwards,” Dr Janagaraj said.

“It is also a timely reminder to get the flu vaccine in preparation for the winter months. The best way to avoid getting sick is to talk to your GP about receiving a flu or whooping cough vaccination.

“Immunisation is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against influenza this winter.

“Vaccinations can take up to two weeks to work, which is why we’re encouraging all Darling Downs residents to roll up their sleeves sooner rather than later.

“This year Queensland Health is providing a free flu vaccine to everyone above the age of six-months, so I’d encourage all members of our community to visit their GP or pharmacist and get the influenza jab soon.”

Influenza can cause severe illness in pregnant mothers and it is important that pregnant women get vaccinated early at any time during their pregnancy.


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