Whooping cough fatalities in babies increases

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HIGH Peak GPs are to offer pregnant women the whooping cough vaccine after a sharp rise in the number of young babies who have died from the disease.

The temporary vaccine programme was launched by the Government on Friday and aims to boost the short-term immunity passed on by pregnant women to protect their newborn babies – who normally cannot be vaccinated until they are two months old.

Nationally, nine babies have died as a result of whooping cough this year and there have been 302 cases of the disease in children under three months old – more than double the 115 cases reported in 2011, according to the Health Protection Agency.

The vaccine will be offered to women between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy, even if they have already had the whooping cough jab.

GPs will be working with local midwives to ensure that all women are given clear guidance on the vaccine during routine antenatal appointments.

lFor more information about whooping cough and the vaccine for pregnant women, visit www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Whooping-cough.