Expert Warns Increased UK Vaccination Rates Needed to Prevent Whooping Cough Deaths 

Expert Warns Increased UK Vaccination Rates Needed to Prevent Whooping Cough Deaths  (1)
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London (Parliament News) – A leading expert warns that unless vaccination rates rise, more infants in the UK will succumb to whooping cough, with under-vaccination among pregnant women posing a significant risk to newborns.

More infants will die from whooping cough in the UK unless vaccination paces go up to slow the spread of the disease, a leading expert has cautioned, citing low take-up of vaccination among pregnant women as a particular problem.

How Can Increased Vaccination Rates Prevent Infant Deaths?

Prof Sir Andrew Pollard, a consultant paediatrician and the head of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, suggests the government, expressed under-vaccination was putting “the weakest– those who are too young to have been immunised– at greatest risk”.

He stated the only thing that could be done about increasing cases was to ensure higher vaccination rates. 

Why Does Low Vaccination Among Pregnant Women Worry Experts?”

He added: “But very significantly, for this very vulnerable body, those who are too young to be immunised, is the vaccination rates in pregnant women. “Very worryingly, those have dropped from a peak of about 75% of women being vaccinated during pregnancy to under 60% today, and that’s what sets these very young infants at particular risk.”

He said for most of the last decade there had not been many claims of whooping cough “because we’re all protected by the high vaccination rates”, but as soon as vaccination rates began to fall, “we see cases rising, the identical as the situation with the measles outbreak”.

What Impact Does Decreasing Vaccination Rates Have on Disease?”

He stated: “The troubling thing is that if we continue to have increased rates of spread and low rates of vaccination, there will be more babies hardly affected and sadly there will be more deaths.” Figures for England indicate 59.3% of pregnant women between October and December 2023 were immunised against whooping cough, almost 16% down on the exact quarter in 2016-17. 

Why Is London Facing Particularly Low Vaccination Rates?

London has particularly lower rates, at 36.8%. Having the vaccine during pregnancy helps bridge the immunity crack from when babies are born until they can be vaccinated. Data for 2022-23 indicates 91.8% of children had had their whooping cough vaccines by their first birthday, with experts expressing this figure also needs to be higher.

Figures unleashed on Thursday showed five babies in England died between January and the end of March after being diagnosed with whooping cough. More than 2,700 whooping cough cases have been registered across England so far in 2024, more than three times the number documented in the whole of last year.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) figures indicate there were 2,793 cases reported to the end of March. That corresponds with 858 cases for the whole of 2023. Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, a consultant epidemiologist for the UKHSA, stated: “Whooping cough can affect people of all ages, but for very young babies it can be extremely serious. Our thoughts and condolences are with those families who have so tragically lost their baby.”

Massimiliano  Verde

Massimiliano Verde is a journalist at Parliament News, He is covering Society and Culture News. Boasting a Master's Degree in Political Science, stands as a prominent figure in the Italian cultural landscape. His presidency of the Neapolitan Academy, a scientifically and sociolinguistically renowned group, attests to his relentless dedication to safeguarding and promoting Neapolitan language and culture. His activism and profound expertise have propelled him into the role of interlocutor for UNESCO as part of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032), a prestigious acknowledgment highlighting the significance of his efforts in preserving the linguistic and cultural diversity of our planet.

Verde's fervent passion for the history and culture of Southern Italy has driven him to immerse himself in research, resulting in numerous essays and articles that delve into the peculiarities and beauties of the region. His commitment extends beyond academia, manifesting in ongoing dissemination activities aimed at acquainting the general public with the rich cultural heritage of the South. His endeavors transcend national boundaries, as evidenced by his participation in international conferences and collaboration with various foreign institutions, rendering him an ambassador of Southern culture on the global stage and fostering intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding.