Vaccination programme to protect against whooping cough after large increase in confirmed cases
A vaccination programme against whooping cough will be launched after a 976 per cent rise across the East Midlands.
There have been 576 confirmed cases of whooping cough in 2012 to date, compared with 59 in 2011.
Due to begin next week, the new programme aims to boost the short-term immunity passed on by pregnant women to protect their newborn babies who normally cannot be vaccinated until they are two months old.
Even if women have previously been immunised they will be encouraged to be vaccinated again to boost their immunity, as it helps protect their babies before they can start their own immunisations.
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Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at the Health Protection Agency, said: "We have been very concerned about the continuing increase in whooping cough cases.
"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.
"It's also important we continue to remind all parents to ensure their children are vaccinated against whooping cough to continue their protection through childhood.
"Parents should also be alert to the signs and symptoms – which include severe coughing fits accompanied by the characteristic "whoop" sound in young children but as a prolonged cough in older children or adults.
"It is also advisable to keep their babies away from older siblings or adults who have the infection."