Parents urged to check vaccines after whooping cough resurgence - The Solihull Observer

Parents urged to check vaccines after whooping cough resurgence

Solihull Editorial 14th May, 2024   0

PREGNANT woman and parents are being urged to make sure vaccines are up to date after five babies have died of whooping cough this year.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says the number of cases of the bacterial infection have soared in recent months with babies facing the highest risk of severe complications and death.

UKHSA said there were 556 cases confirmed in January and 918 in February, bringing the total number of cases in 2024 to 2,793.

It added in the first quarter of 2024 (January – March), 1,420 cases were found in those aged 15 years or older who usually get a mild illness but the rates of whooping cough remain highest in babies under three months of age.

According to UKHSA uptake of vaccinations have fallen in recent years across the country – in both the programme for pregnant women and the infant programme.

Emma Booth, health protection consultant leading on vaccine preventable diseases for UKHSA West Midlands, said: “Vaccination remains the best defence against whooping cough, and it is vital that pregnant women and young infants receive their vaccines at the right time.

“Pregnant women are offered a whooping cough vaccine in every pregnancy, ideally between 20 and 32 weeks. This passes protection to their baby in the womb so that they are protected from birth in the first months of their life when they are most vulnerable and before they can receive their own vaccines.

“All babies are given three doses of the six in one jab at eight, 12 and 16 weeks of age to protect against whooping cough and other serious diseases such as diphtheria and polio with a pre-school booster offered at three years four months.

“Whooping cough can affect people of all ages but for very young babies it can be extremely serious. Our thoughts and condolences are with those families who have so tragically lost their baby.”

Whooping cough, clinically known as pertussis, is a bacterial infection which affects the lungs.

The first signs of infection are similar to a cold, such as a runny nose and sore throat, but after about a week, the infection can develop into coughing bouts that last for a few minutes and are typically worse at night.

Young babies may also make a distinctive “whoop” or have difficulty breathing after a bout of coughing, though not all babies make this noise which means whooping cough can be hard to recognise.

The UKHSA say anyone diagnosed should stay at home and do not go into work, school or nursery until 48 hours after starting antibiotics, or three weeks after symptoms start if they have not had antibiotics to prevent the spread of infection, especially to vulnerable groups, including infants.


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