You’re a grandparent — congratulations! Whether you’re new to this role or an old hand, it’s important you’ve had the whooping cough vaccine before visiting to protect the newest member of your family.

What is Whooping Cough, and Why Worry About It?

Whooping cough, AKA pertussis, is more than just a nasty cough. It’s a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. A baby with whooping cough can struggle to breathe due to violent coughing fits that can last for many weeks.

Initially, the infection might resemble a common cold, but a cough soon develops with a characteristic whoop sound when the baby inhales. In babies, especially those under six months, the symptoms can escalate to severe respiratory distress.

Sometimes, family and friends carrying whooping cough don’t develop symptoms for as long as three weeks, making the infection difficult to detect.

Enter the Whooping Cough Vaccine

Thankfully, there’s a way to prevent your grandchild from contracting the infection – the whooping cough vaccine. The vaccine isn’t just for newborns but for all those in close contact with them, forming a protective shield or barrier.

When should I get vaccinated?

Elderly man with silver hair sitting on a couch, possibly with whooping cough holding his forehead in discomfort.

Ideally, you and anyone likely to come in contact with the baby should receive the vaccine at least two weeks before meeting them, allowing the vaccine to reach its full protective potential.

It’s important to note that the vaccine’s protection wanes over time. You should stay up-to-date with vaccinations, including booster doses, and seek medical advice early if you develop symptoms.

When can my grandchild get vaccinated?

As much as we’d like to be able to vaccinate babies right away, they need to wait until they are six weeks old to receive their first dose of the whooping cough vaccine. A series of doses follows, typically given at four, six, and 18 months, and at four years, with an adult booster shot given at 12–13 years (in Year 7 at secondary school).

Why is vaccination important?

Newborns are more vulnerable to severe complications because their immune systems are not fully developed. By vaccinating family and friends, the risk of infection is significantly reduced

This is great news, but how do I get vaccinated?  

Sourcing the whooping cough vaccination is easy. General practitioners, community health centres, and vaccination clinics are readily available throughout Victoria to administer it. 

Simply book an appointment with a GP at your local medical centre. And, for the cost of a standard consultation plus $45 for the whooping cough vaccination, you’ll be ready to greet the newest member of your family. 

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