HPA figures show there were 2,466 confirmed cases of pertussis up to the end of June. There were 221 in the first five months of 2011, when cases first began to rise, and 136 in the same period in 2010.
In response to the outbreak, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said the DH will instruct GPs to clear waiting lists and recommend earlier jabs in some circumstances. The DH will also examine changes to practice IT systems to eliminate delays in vaccinating young children.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the HPA said the agency was ‘very concerned about the ongoing increase in cases’.
‘The JCVI is reviewing a number of options including the introduction of a booster dose in teenagers and offering whooping cough vaccination to pregnant women,’ she said.
At the June meeting of the JCVI, the committee recommended whooping cough vaccination for healthcare workers working with young babies to protect them against infection and to stop any risk of them passing the infection on to their very young patients.