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Pertussis vaccination in Child Care Workers: room for improvement in coverage, policy and practice

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2431-12-98

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A cross sectional survey of all child care centre directors in the Hunter New England (HNE) area of northern NSW was conducted in 2010 using a computer assisted telephone interviewing service.Ninety-eight percent (319/325) of child care centres identified within the HNE area participated in the survey. Thirty-five percent (113/319) of centres indicated that they had policies concerning respiratory illness in staff members. Sixty-three percent (202/319) of centres indicated that they kept a record of staff vaccination, however, of the 170 centre’s who indicated they updated their records, 74% (125/170) only updated records if a staff member notified them. Of centres with records, 58% indicated that fewer than half of their staff were vaccinated.Many childcare workers have not had a recent pertussis immunisation. This potentially places young children at risk at an age when they are most vulnerable to severe disease. With increasing use of child care, national accreditation and licensing requirements need to monitor the implementation of policies on child care worker vaccination. Higher levels of vaccination would assist in reducing the risk of pertussis cases and subsequent outbreaks in child care centres.The resurgence of pertussis (whooping cough) in Australia has attracted community concern, especially with recent deaths in two infants from the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) [1,2]. Although pertussis incidence declined after the widespread use of whole cell pertussis vaccines in the mid-1940’s, this disease remains an important cause of morbidity in Australia, especially in young infants [3].This bacterial infection of the respiratory tract, caused by Bordetella pertussis, usually begins with coryza (nasal conjestion), fatigue and sometimes a mild fever. A cough then develops, which is often paroxysmal, may be followed by a deep gasp (or whoop). Pertussis affects people of all ages with infants being at greatest risk of severe disease, complications, ho

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