Whooping cough cases rise rapidly as vaccine uptake drops, say health bosses

Whooping cough can be dangerous if you are pregnant or have a child under the age of one. Credit: PA Images

Parents are being urged to get their children vaccinated against 'whooping cough', as health experts warn of an increase in case which has not been seen in five years.

The illness affects people's lungs and breathing tubes and can be very serious for children under the age of one.

Public Health Wales says, whilst vaccination rates remain high, it has seen a ten percent fall in uptake of the 6-in-1 vaccine.

Figures released by the health authority show that the number of whooping cough cases has risen to its highest level since 2019.

Dr Christopher Johnson, from Public Health Wales, said: “We typically see high rates of whooping cough peaking every three to four years, and with rates suppressed during the lockdowns of the pandemic we are naturally seeing a resurgence this year. 

“Whooping cough is highly contagious and is spread by breathing in small droplets in the air from other people’s coughs and sneezes.

"Babies under six months old are at most risk. It can be very serious and lead to pneumonia and permanent brain damage.

"Young babies with whooping cough are at risk of dying from the disease", he said.

“We would urge all pregnant women and parents of babies and young children to ensure they take up their offer of vaccination when given, or to ask their GP, mid wife or health visitor if they believe they may not have had it.”

If your baby is under 6 months old and has symptoms of whooping cough, or you or your child have a very bad cough that is getting worse, you should contact the NHS 111 service.

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