The recent death from whooping cough of a 32-day-old baby in Perth has highlighted the tragic consequences of this debilitating disease, and the desperate need to do something about it.
The death of Riley Hughes on March 15 was the first death of an infant in Western Australia since 2011, but the fifth since 2008.
Since that time, the number of notifications and hospitalisations of infants with whooping cough has continued to rise, with 12 having died of the disease since 2008 Australia-wide.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is particularly serious in infants under six months. Babies cannot be vaccinated until they are six weeks old at their earliest, therefore the most important thing is to ensure all adults receive booster shots to prevent their spreading the disease and thus protecting those most vulnerable.
Riley’s parents issued a plea for others to vaccinate their children against the disease and said they hoped his death would not be in vain.
Currently, pertussis vaccination is free for children, but not for adults. A new petition on change.org asks all State and Territory Health Ministers to consider free pertussis boosters (or at least at very low cost) and readily accessible to all adults.
At Australian Skeptics, the constant battle to ensure high levels of vaccination has been ongoing, often against emotive but false arguments from the anti-vaccination movement.
12 babies is 12 too many. We would recommend that as many people as possible sign the petition.