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Urgent call to get whooping cough vaccine
Heavily pregnant mothers are to be vaccinated against whooping cough in a bid to halt the alarming rise of reported cases of the disease.
The Government’s chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said that mothers-to-be will be offered the vaccination to protect their newborn babies.
From Monday women between 28 and 38 weeks pregnant will be offered the vaccination in a £10 million programme.
The vaccination programme is in response to a whooping cough outbreak that has shown no sign of stopping in Sussex.
There have been 254 reported cases so far this year, eight times the number recorded for all of 2011.
Adults and children are the most prone but some very young babies have also been affected.
There have been 46 cases in Brighton and Hove compared to three last year while East Sussex has risen from seven to 101 and West Sussex from 21 to 107.
Youngsters cannot receive the jab until they are two months old but vaccinating their mothers before the infants are born will boost their immunity until they reach the age they can get the injection.
Vaccines will be administered through routine antenatal appointments with nurses, midwives or GPs.
Whooping cough is a serious illness for the very young and can lead to death in some cases.
So far this year nine infants under the age of three months have died in England as a result of the infectious disease.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the Health Protection Agency, said: “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.”
Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “We encourage pregnant women to have the vaccine in the final trimester of pregnancy to protect themselves and their baby from the disease in the first weeks after it is born.”
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