Local NHS and public health teams should “increase efforts” to vaccinate pregnant women for whooping cough, as cases are expected to rise over the summer months, Public Health England (PHE) has claimed.
Despite a sustained fall in the numbers of whooping cough (pertussis) cases, PHE has called on clinicians to “remain focused” on promoting the vaccine.
One baby under two months of age has already died this year from the disease. Currently, around 60% of eligible pregnant women take the vaccine.
A total of 380 cases were confirmed in May, compared to 410 the previous month and 682 in May 2012.
Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, consultant epidemiologist for immunisation at PHE, said: “We are now approaching the time of year when we would normally expect to see cases of whooping cough begin to increase.
“It is crucial that pregnant women continue to get vaccinated to provide their babies with protection until they are old enough to have their routine vaccines.”
Professor David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the Department of Health said: “I recognise that this is a challenging time, with several new vaccination programmes being implemented at one time, but I want to urge you all to remain focused on promoting and encouraging women to take this vaccine, and to thank you for your efforts.”