Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting MG NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Get jabs against whooping cough, mums-to-be told
PREGNANT women in Worcestershire have been urged by health bosses to get themselves vaccinated against whooping cough which has so far killed nine babies under the age of three months in England.
Figures published yesterday show 1,230 cases of whooping cough in England and Wales were reported to the Health Protection Agency (HPA) to the end of August, bringing the total number of cases so far this year to 4,791 – more than four times higher than the annual total number of cases reported in 2011.
The Department of Health has announced pregnant women will be offered the whooping cough vaccination to protect their newborn babies who are not usually vaccinated until between two and four months. This will boost the short term immunity passed on by women to their babies while they are still in the womb.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the HPA, said: “We have been very concerned about the continuing increase in whooping cough cases and related deaths. We welcome the urgent measure from the Department of Health to minimise the harm from whooping cough, particularly in young infants, and we encourage all pregnant women to ensure they receive the vaccination to give their baby the best protection against whooping cough.”
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, affects all ages. Young infants are at highest risk of severe complications and death from whooping cough as babies do not complete vaccination until they are around four months old. In older children and adults whooping cough can be an unpleasant illness but it does not usually lead to serious complications. Whooping cough is a highly infectious bacterial disease which spreads when a person with the infection coughs.
From Monday, women across the UK who are between 28 and 38 weeks pregnant will be offered the vaccination.
Increases in whooping cough are usually seen every three to four years. The last rise in the number of confirmed cases was recorded in 2008.
The largest number of cases have been in those over the age of 15 but there has also been a sharp rise in whooping cough in babies aged under three months.
The temporary programme will cost £10 million.