Doctors plead with pregnant mothers to get vaccinated after alarming rise in reported Whooping cough cases

The Health Protection Agency

The Health Protection Agency - Credit: Archant

THERE were nearly ten times more cases of whooping cough reported in the east of England in 2012 compared to 2011, the Health Protection Agency announced today.

Last year saw 1,091 cases in the east of England compared to 104 in 2011, prompting medical professionals to reiterate to pregnant women the importance of getting vaccinated.

The highest number of cases in the east of England were reported in those aged 15 and over, with a total of 918 during 2012 compared to 72 in 2011.

Whooping cough is a highly infectious bacterial disease which spreads when a person with the infection coughs and sheds the bacteria which is then inhaled by another person.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at the HPA, said: “We would like to remind pregnant women how serious this infection can be in young babies and how it can in some cases cause death.

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“Vaccinating women between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy should offer babies protection against whooping cough in the first few months of life, before they receive their own vaccines.

“It is important that parents ensure their children are vaccinated against whooping cough on time, even babies of women who’ve had the vaccine in pregnancy – this is to continue their baby’s protection through childhood.”

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Young infants are at highest risk of severe complications and death from whooping cough as babies do not complete vaccination until they are about four months old.

In older children and adults whooping cough can be an unpleasant illness but it does not usually lead to serious complications.

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