All pregnant women should have the whooping cough vaccine after new figures from Public Health England have shown that whooping cough levels were still high in England.
There were more laboratory confirmed whooping cough cases reported in the first six months of 2015 (1744 cases) than in the same period in 2014 (1412 cases).
Pregnant women have been offered whooping cough vaccine since October 2012 in response to the national outbreak. The new data shows that from April 2014 to March 2015, whooping cough vaccine coverage in pregnant women averaged 56.4% in England.
The data shows that confirmed cases of whopping cough in babies under three months of age remain low, indicating that the vaccination programme is protecting young babies from birth. But the latest figures show that, overall, reported whooping cough cases are still at raised levels in England, meaning that babies born to unvaccinated mothers remain vulnerable to the disease in the first few weeks.
These totals remain higher than those observed before the outbreak began, although they are lower than the numbers observed in the same period in 2012 and 2013.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said: 'The latest figures show that whooping cough is still prevalent in England and it's important that pregnant women visit their GP surgery or midwife to get vaccinated, ideally between 28 and 32 weeks of pregnancy. Being vaccinated against whooping cough while you're pregnant is a highly-effective way to protect your baby in the first few weeks of their life. 'The immunity you get from the vaccine passes to your baby and provides them with protection until they are old enough to be routinely vaccinated against whooping cough at two months old,' she
PHE research discovered that babies born to women who were vaccinated at least a week before birth had a 91% reduced risk of becoming ill with whooping cough in their first weeks of life, compared to babies whose mothers had not been vaccinated.