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Whooping cough can be fatal for very young babies
PREGNANT women across Hampshire are to be offered a vaccination to combat whooping cough following a dramatic rise in the number of cases.
There have been 180 confirmed cases of the potentially deadly illness in the county this year compared with just eight last year.
The vaccination will boost short-term immunity and be passed on by women to their babies while they are still in the womb. New-borns will still need to be vaccinated between two and four months of age, so that they continue to be protected.
GPs will be vaccinating women who are at least 28 weeks pregnant in order to optimise the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Whooping cough is a highly- contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways, which usually begins with a persistent, dry and irritating cough. This progresses to intense bouts of coughing, which are followed by a distinctive whooping noise.
Dr Ruth Milton, director of public health for Hampshire, speaking on behalf of the Directors of Public Health at the Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth Primary Care Trust Cluster, said: “Whooping cough affects all ages, but this ongoing national increase has extended to very young babies.
“It is this age group that is most likely to suffer severe complications, or even death. That’s why the Department of Health is urging all women who are 28 weeks pregnant or more to have the vaccination.
“The immunity you get from the vaccine will pass to your baby through the placenta, helping to protect them in the first few weeks of life.
“If you’re approaching being 28 weeks pregnant, or are further along, then we urge you to contact your GP to find out more about the vaccine, and to book an appointment to receive it.
“It’s also important that all parents ensure their children are vaccinated against whooping cough, as part of their routine immunisations, to continue protection through childhood.”
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