GP practices drive up coverage of pertussis vaccine in pregnant women

GP practices have driven up pertussis vaccine coverage in pregnant women from 55.1% to 57.7% in the six months from April to October 2015, higher than levels observed this time last year, Public Health England (PHE) data shows.

Levels of coverage spiked between September and December, coinciding with delivery of the flu vaccine, which also targets pregnant women.

Coverage stands higher than the same time last year - with 52.7% of pregnant women vaccinated in April 2014 and just over 55% by October 2015.

Pertussis has continued to display peaks in activity every three to four years, despite a sustained period of high vaccine coverage since the early 1990s. Prevalence of the disease has been particularly high since 2012, when the ongoing national outbreak was declared.

The highest incidence of the disease occurs in infants under three months of age – who are too young to receive the vaccine themselves and instead rely upon receiving indirect protection when their mother is vaccinated during pregnancy.

GP pertussis vaccination

A total of 12 deaths of young babies have been reported between October 2012 and June 2015 – of which 11 were born to unvaccinated mothers.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has announced that the pertussis vaccination programme for pregnant women will continue until at least 2019.

A PHE infection report said: 'Compared with the same period of the previous year, prenatal pertussis vaccine coverage between June and September 2015 was higher every month, with the trough in late spring to early summer 2013 and 2014 not seen.'

Uptake data on pertussis vaccination are based on information from 95% of GP practices in England.

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