Whooping cough epidemic slows

THE whooping cough epidemic is slowing down.

North Coast Area Health Services Director of Public Health Paul Corben said after battling the epidemic for two years ‘it looks like we’re getting towards the end of the outbreak’.

Low vaccination rates in some areas have contributed to the high levels of the potentially deadly infection.

“The rate of infection in the Bellingen area is much higher than Coffs Harbour because Coffs has a higher vaccination rate,” Mr Corben said.

Parents, grandparents and carers in contact with children less than 12 months of age are now offered a free vaccine, introduced in March last year, to protect infants from whooping cough.

“We very strongly encourage new parents to take advantage of the vaccine,” Mr Corben said.

Since the introduction of the free vaccination, more than 300,000 doses have administered a across NSW.

Mr Corben said parents should ensure their children are vaccinated in line with the Australian standard.

For the next three years, students in years seven and 10 will receive a free shot.

Mr Corben is also encouraging people to protect themselves against the H1N1 virus (swine flu) for the upcoming flu season.

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