Vaccination warning over whooping cough

PARENTS are being warned to ensure their children are vaccinated against whooping cough after a rise in cases during 2011.

The number of cases in England and Wales more than doubled from 421 in 2010 to 1,040 in 2011.

In north Northamptonshire, there have been nine cases of the illness reported to the Health Protection Agency in the past year.

Two of these were in East Northamptonshire, four were in Kettering, two were in Corby and one was in Wellingborough.

It can be a serious illness in the very young but can affect all age groups.

Symptoms of the illness, also known as pertussis, include severe coughing fits which in children are accompanied by the characteristic ‘whoop’ as the child gasps for breath after coughing.

Very young children have the highest risk of severe complications and death.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the HPA, said: “We usually see a rise in cases of whooping cough every three to four years as the disease peaks in cycles, with 2008 being the last peak year.

“The uptake of the vaccine which protects against whooping cough is very good but it is a highly infectious disease so when there is a case it can spread quickly.

“Parents should ensure their children are up to date with their vaccinations so that they are protected at the earliest opportunity.

“The pre-school booster is also important, not only to boost protection in that child but also to help prevent them passing the infection on to vulnerable babies, as those under four months old cannot be fully protected by the vaccine.”

Morgana Price, 22, a mother to Dylan, one, from Nest Farm Crescent, Wellingborough, said: “Dylan has had all his jabs and I think it’s really important for them to get them.

“I think even if people have missed getting their injections they should go to their doctor and let them know so they can get them up to date.”