Dr Lloyd Sussens wishes to make people aware of whooping cough.
Dr Lloyd Sussens wishes to make people aware of whooping cough. Scottie Simmonds

Get vaccinated for cough: GPs

BUNDABERG GPs are urging family members of all ages to get vaccinated against the current Australia-wide epidemic of whooping cough.

The latest figures from Queensland Health show the number of whooping cough notifications for the Wide Bay region was 403 to December last year.

A spokesman from Queensland Health said that in recent years notified cases of the condition, also called pertussis, had been higher than usual throughout Queensland and Australia.

Dr Daud Yunus, president of the Bundaberg and District Local Medical Association, said whooping cough had become more common in the past two years and he had dealt with a number of cases late last year.

"It is important to stress that this disease is most serious in infants aged under six months of age, as they are not fully protected by vaccination," he said.

Dr Lloyd Sussens, of Jacaranda General Practice, said although there had been no reported cases so far this year at his clinic, he backed Queensland Health's recent warning on vaccinations.

"We had quite a few cases last year, and there is an epidemic Australia-wide at the moment, as rates are increasing all over the country," Dr Sussens said.

Dr Margaret Young, of Wide Bay Health Service District's Public Health Unit, said while Bundaberg-specific figures were available on whooping cough cases, she believes the Wide Bay figures are lower than the reality.

"The 403 reported cases only represent those who have gone to a GP - it only accounts for a proportion of persons. It is an indicative figure but not a complete number of cases," she said.

"The best protection for babies less than six months of age is for adults to get a free booster vaccine, which is available to parents, siblings, grandparents and others who live with infants under six months of age," she said.

A free vaccination is available for all children at two, four and six months of age and four years of age.