Pregnant women to get whooping cough jab

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PREGNANT women in South Holland are to vaccinated against whooping cough to protect their unborn babies as the number of cases of the illness continue to rise.

There have already been 65 reported cases of whooping cough in Lincolnshire up to the end of August this year.

There were 59 cases in the whole of 2011.

Nationally the number of cases in 2012 has been more than three times higher than in 2011 and in August alone three babies aged under three months died from the disease – taking the total in that age group to nine this year.

It is hoped offering the jab to pregnant women will give protection to their newborns, as babies are not vaccinated until they between two and four months old.

Dr Mary Ramsey, head of immunisation at the Health Protection Agency, said: “We have been concerned about the rise 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.”

Pregnant women over 28 weeks in Lincolnshire will be contacted by their GP and invited for the jab.

Parents have also been reminded to ensure their children’s vaccinations are up to date and to be aware of the symptoms of the disease, also known as pertussis.

These include severe coughing fits with the characteristic “whoop” sound in young children, or a prolonged cough in older children or adults

There have been 576 confirmed cases in the East Midlands, and to the end of August there have been 4,791 cases nationally – up from 1,118 in the whole of 2011.