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).

Requirements for students

The Victorian Standardised Student Induction Protocol requires that students are vaccinated against pertussis prior to undertaking clinical placement.

Students must provide the University an official vaccination record from a health practitioner or Medicare that indicates one dose of dTpa vaccine given within the past 10 years.

If you have any questions about pertussis requirements, please contact the Health Hub at or +61 3 8344 5807 (option 3).

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Infection and immunisation