08:37 29 September 2012
For the first time pregnant women will be able to be administered a vaccine that protects against whooping cough. This comes as a result of the increase in new born babies dying because of the disease.
Health officials released the news after an outbreak of whooping cough, which is thought to be the worst spell in two decades, claimed the lives of 10 babies. Reports state the victims were all aged under three months old.
The Health Protection Agency has seen almost 4,800 cases of whooping cough in England and Wales up to August 2012, which is four times as many compared to 2011.
The Independent states that the Government's principal medical adviser, Chief Medical Officer Professor Sally Davies, has said the vaccine will be available from Monday. It is understood the ‘Repevax’ jab will be issued to women who are in the target category of between 28-32weeks pregnant.
Professor David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation, explained to The Telegraph that the recent increase of whooping cough brought “the most serious cases being in children too young to be protected by routine vaccinations.”
He explained: “The vaccine that we are offering to pregnant women has been recommended by experts and a similar vaccine is already given to pregnant women in the US.
“If you are pregnant, getting vaccinated is the best way you can protect your baby against whooping cough.”
The Department of Health’s programme recognises that babies are unprotected from whooping cough until they are two months old, and so a way around this would be to pass a vaccine through the mother to protect the new-borns.
This way, babies will be immune from the disease. It is understood that mothers and babies cannot contract whooping cough from the vaccination.
The general rule is women are advised not to take any medication during pregnancy unless it is necessary, but given the outbreak this will see expectant mothers being offered a vaccine for the second time.
Previous to this, it is understood that the pandemic flu vaccine came as a response to the swine flu outbreak.
Main symptoms of Whooping Cough:
· Severe coughing fits
· A ‘whoop’ sound with each breath for babies and children
· Vomiting after coughing
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