Press release 9/5/24

Whooping cough cases continue to rise

New data published today by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows cases of whooping cough continue to increase with 1,319 cases confirmed in March. This follows 556 cases in January and 918 in February, bringing the total number of cases in 2024 to 2,793.

Sadly, in the first quarter of 2024 (January - March), there have been five infant deaths. Young infants are at highest risk of severe complications and death from whooping cough. Updated estimates of vaccine effectiveness in pregnancy shows high levels of protection (92%) against infant death.



 Whooping Cough resources:


We frequently hear back from women that they either weren’t offered the vaccine, didn’t understand why they were being offered it, or didn’t think they needed it because they have had it previously. We need those working with pregnant women to help them understand why they need the pertussis vaccine in pregnancy. The vaccine is to protect their baby before they are eligible for their own Pertussis vaccine at 8 weeks of age and by having the vaccine in pregnancy the antibodies pass to the baby in utero and thereby offering them protection in those early weeks of life. The vaccine can be given from 16 to 32 weeks of pregnancy ideally but even up to birth, it can be given because it will still offer some protection. There are no safety concerns specific to having the vaccine during pregnancy.


Vaccines are offered to pregnant women in some maternity units, but GP practices should continue to offer pertussis vaccination to their registered pregnant patients and make every contact count by reminding women at every appointment about the maternal vaccines available to them.

Published on 10 May 2024