Half of pregnant women vaccinated against whooping cough

Almost half of pregnant women have received the whooping cough vaccine this winter, official figures show, but experts have called for more to receive the jab.

Pregnant women: just one in three vaccinated against whooping cough
Pregnant women: just one in three vaccinated against whooping cough

Figures from PCTs across England released by the DH on Tuesday show around 18,000 women - 44% of those eligible - have received the pertussis vaccine since the vaccination programme began in October.

In contrast, the flu vaccination rate among pregnant women remains low at 35.4%, although this is higher than the 24.1% vaccination rate achieved by this time last year.

Experts say there have been 13 deaths and 7,728 cases of whooping cough in the current outbreak – 10 times higher than the last significant peak in 2008.

Professor David Salisbury, DH director of immunisation, said he was ‘pleased’ with the uptake but urged all pregnant women between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy to get vaccinated. ‘Whooping cough is highly infectious and infants are particularly vulnerable,’ he said. ‘It's vital that babies are protected from the day they are born - that's why we are encouraging all pregnant women to be vaccinated.’

Low flu vaccination rates among vulnerable patients this winter had forced ministers to relaunch a national awareness campaign despite ruling this out earlier in the year.

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