MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

Expectant mothers urged to get whooping cough vaccinations

Experts at ChemistDirect, a United Kingdom-based online pharmacy, urged pregnant women on Monday to get vaccinated against whooping cough, also known as pertussis, to protect the baby against the disease after birth.

ChemistDirect said that Public Health England is encouraging local public health and National Health Service teams to increase vaccination efforts among pregnant women. Vaccinations against whooping cough can prevent infections with the highly contagious bacterial infection accompanied with intense bouts of coughing followed by a distinctive whooping sound.

Babies under the age of six months are most at risk of hospitalizations from whooping cough because they are most susceptible to complications.

"Whooping cough tends to be cyclical, peaking every five years or so," Omar El-Gohary, the superintendent pharmacist at ChemistDirect, said. "It is more endemic in summer/autumn and we're having one of those 'peaks' right now. Those at higher risk include neonates especially as U.K. immunization programs start at two months old. It is therefore essential that all pregnant women over 28 weeks get vaccinated to pass on this immunity through the placenta."

According to NHS Direct, most whooping cough cases occur in adults whose immunity faded after receiving vaccination as a child. Nursing in Practice estimates that approximately 60 percent of eligible pregnant women take the vaccine. The vaccine can give babies protection until they are old enough to have their routine vaccinations.