Whooping Cough vaccination available to pregnant women from Monday
All women who are between 28 and 32 weeks pregnant will be offered the vaccination for Whooping Cough from Monday to help prevent an endemic.
The UK is experiencing the worst outbreak of Whooping Cough in ten years with almost 5,000 cases having been reported. And tragically ten babies all under eight weeks old have died after contracting the disease.
The combined vaccine offers protection against whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria and polio. Health officials say there are no concerns over the vaccine and are advising women to be vaccinated even if they have been vaccinated before.
Currently, babies are given a vaccination against Whooping Cough at eight weeks old and then have boosters aged three and four months; however they can’t be vaccinated earlier as their bodies aren’t developed enough for it to be effective. Therefore doctors advise women to have the vaccination to protect themselves from the disease in the hope that they could pass on their protection to their unborn children.
Whooping Cough is highly contagious infection of the lungs and is spread by coughs and sneezing and although it’s usually successfully treated with antibiotics in adults, young babies are most at risk of complications and death.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the Health Protection Agency told the BBC: “Parents should 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.”
Will you be taking advantage of the vaccination programme? Or do you know any families that have been affected by Whooping Cough?