"Pregnant women are to be given the whooping cough vaccine for the first time following the biggest outbreak of the disease for 20 years and the deaths of 10 babies", The Daily Telegraph reports.
Vaccinating pregnant women may help stop the spread of highly contagious whooping cough
All pregnant women are to be offered vaccination against whooping cough when they are 28-38 weeks pregnant, the government has announced. The recommendation follows a sharp rise in the number of whooping cough cases in the UK.
Whooping cough is a serious illness. Babies who get it can develop severe complications such as pneumonia and brain damage. Most babies with whooping cough will need hospital treatment, and when whooping cough is very severe they may die.
There is a large outbreak of whooping cough in the UK at the moment, with three times more cases in the general population than there were last year. In the first seven months of this year, 235 babies under 12 weeks old had whooping cough. It has been confirmed that ten of these babies have died. Babies are not vaccinated against whooping cough until they are two months old, so those who are too young to be vaccinated are at greatest risk.
You should be offered the whooping cough vaccination at a routine antenatal appointment when you are between 28 and 38 weeks pregnant. Getting vaccinated while you’re pregnant could help to protect your baby from developing whooping cough in its first few weeks of life.
Last Updated: 29 October 2012