Whooping Cough Outbreak At School Sparks Warning

Authorities confirmed the cluster broke out after an unvaccinated child contracted the illness, then attended the school.

The Gold Coast’s Public Health Unit has ordered unvaccinated children to stay home, following an outbreak of whooping cough at a popular primary school.

At least 15 cases of the infectious respiratory illness have been detected at Palm Beach State School, triggering the alert.

Gold Coast Public Health Unit staff specialist Professor Paul Van Buynder told TEN Eyewitness News the decision was made to protect staff and students.

“This is an incredibly serious disease, particularly for children under the age of one,” Mr Van Buynder said.

The alert sparked a response from the city’s immunisation team this morning, with nurses providing booster shots for teachers.

“They are people who could get illness from the children and then keep it spreading to other children,” Mr Van Buynder told TEN Eyewitness News.

Authorities have confirmed the cluster broke out after an unvaccinated child contracted the illness, then attended the school.

Parents outside the classrooms said they were disappointed not every child was vaccinated.

“It is concerning, but my daughter’s been immunised so there’s no concerns with my daughter,” one woman said.

“For herd immunity you want every other kid who can’t be immunised to be safe in the school and in public,” another mother said.

Mr Van Buynder warned though, that even immunised children can get sick, due to changes that weakened the vaccine 15 years ago.

“These children get mild disease. They don’t get the nasty disease that puts them in hospital,” he said.

In an email to parents, Palm Beach State School Principal Sandra Thompson said students who looked sick should also stay home.

“If your child is presenting unwell at all, please do not send your child to school until they are well,” the email read.

It’s hoped the upcoming school holidays will help break the cycle of the disease spreading.