Pertussis (whooping cough) is a serious, contagious, respiratory infection that begins like a cold and then develops a characteristic cough. The ‘whoop’ (which isn’t always obvious) is due to a deep breath at the end of a bout of coughing, which commonly induces vomiting. It is spread by an infected person coughing or sneezing.

Whooping cough is particularly dangerous for babies less than six months of age, as they are affected more seriously by the disease and are more likely to develop complications. One in every 200 babies who contract whooping cough will die.

Immunisation is the best way to reduce the risk of whooping cough. It is usually delivered in a vaccine combined with diphtheria and tetanus (for adolescents and adults). The Victorian Immunisation for healthcare workers guidelines recommend a booster dose of dTpa vaccine if 10 years have elapsed since the previous dose.

Requirements for students

Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences students undertaking placement are required to be vaccinated against pertussis. A vaccine record or written statement from a health practitioner must be submitted via Sonia that confirms receipt of one adult dose of dTpa vaccine within the last 10 years.

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Infection and immunisation