Whooping cough: are your children vaccinated?

The Health Protection Agency says vaccination is vital Credit: ITV Meridian

Figures released today by the Health Protection Agency show that 665 laboratory confirmed cases of whooping cough were reported to them between January and March 2012, compared with a total of 1,040 cases during the whole of 2011.

Almost a quarter of these cases were in the South East region, with some areas reporting clusters of cases in schools, universities and healthcare settings.

Dr Peter Biggs, a Canterbury GP says that babies should be vaccinated at two, three and four months and again when they reach their first birthday. Children also need a pre-school booster once they reach three and a half.

It's every child's right to receive immunisations against preventable illnesses such as whooping cough and measles, and it's every parent's responsibility to ensure that these are given. These diseases have not gone away.

The main symptoms of whooping cough are:

  • severe coughing fits

  • a 'whoop' sound as the child gasps for breath

More information is available from the European Immunisation Week website