Pregnant women warned over whooping cough

Less than half of pregnant women have been vaccinated despite an increase in cases of the disease

Pregnant women have been warned by the government’s immunisation chief to have a whooping cough vaccine after an increase in cases of the illness.

According to figures from the Department of Health, less than half of expectant mothers have been vaccinated, despite the death of 13 babies and the infection of several hundred others this year alone.

The government’s immunisation chief, Professor David Salisbury, called for women who are between 28 and 38 weeks pregnant to take the offer of the vaccine, Repevax.

Praising the 44 per cent of women who had been vaccinated, Professor Salisbury said: ‘I’m pleased that nearly half of pregnant women have taken up the offer of the whooping cough vaccine. But I’d urge all pregnant women between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy to get the vaccine to protect their babies.

‘Whooping cough is highly infectious and infants are particularly vulnerable.’

Early symptoms of whooping cough include a dry cough, sneezing and a raised temperature. If left untreated, the disease can cause pneumonia and brain damage.

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