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Supporting children and students with whooping cough

This page outlines how education staff, care services, parents, guardians, and health professionals work together to manage a child or student with whooping cough in education and care settings.

About whooping cough

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a bacterial infection of the nose and throat. 

Whooping cough is highly infectious and can be spread when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes. It is also spread by contact with hands, tissues and other articles soiled by infected nose and throat discharges. 

Learn more about whooping cough including:

  • signs and symptoms
  • diagnosis
  • treatment and prevention. 

Health support plans and agreements

If the child or student has whooping cough, the education or care service should refer to health support planning for children and students in education and care settings to ensure that the appropriate plans and agreements are in place. This is in addition to the whooping cough-specific plans and agreements listed on this page. 

Communication and reporting procedures

If a child or student is suspected of having whooping cough, the school, preschool or care service must notify SA Health by submitting a notifiable condition reporting form

The school, preschool or care service must also notify the school community. The following text can be used and the whooping cough (pertussis) fact sheet should be attached.

A number of cases of whooping cough have been reported within our school community. 

Please refer to the attached fact sheet for information on whooping cough, including symptoms, diagnosis, infectious periods and treatment. 

If your child presents with the described symptoms, please seek medical advice before your child returns to school or preschool. 

Immunisations with vaccines that protect against whooping cough are effective in reducing the likelihood of illness and complications from the disease. Children within the school community who have received the recommended number of doses of whooping cough vaccine are much less likely to become infected with the disease. If your child is not immunised, it is recommended that you contact your local doctor for more advice regarding preventative measures.

How parents and caregivers can help

Parents or guardians must:

  • notify the school, preschool or care service if their child has whooping cough
  • complete health care plans and agreements with their health care professionals and provide them to the school, preschool or care service
  • provide required medication to the school, preschool or care service.

If a medication agreement is in place, parents and caregivers must fulfil the roles and responsibilities outlined on the medication management and care page.

How health professionals can help

Health professionals support schools, preschools, care services and families by helping to develop the care plans and supporting medication agreements mentioned on this page.

Disability advice and research

Phone: 8226 0515
Email: education.health [at] sa.gov.au