Torbay Council’s Public Health Team is reminding pregnant mothers, from 16 weeks, that they can protect themselves and babies from whooping cough (pertussis) by getting vaccinated.
Many people believe that whooping cough has died out but it has been on the increase nationally, although in recent years local figures have been dropping.
Cllr Derek Mills, Deputy Mayor and Executive Lead for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Since 1 April 2016, pertussis containing vaccine should be offered to pregnant women from 16 weeks gestation, ideally after their 20 week scan.
“This will provide greater opportunity for pregnant women to access the vaccine and will also provide additional benefit where delivery is premature.
“Vaccination is also available to new mothers who have never previously been vaccinated against whooping cough, up to when the child receives their first vaccination at age two months.”
Babies cannot be vaccinated against whooping cough until they are eight weeks old making new born babies particularly at risk of contracting the illness which can lead to pneumonia, brain damage, weight loss and death.
By vaccinating pregnant women with the combined whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria and polio vaccine the immunity mothers get from the vaccine will pass to their baby through the placenta. There is no evidence to suggest that the vaccine is unsafe for mother or baby if used in pregnancy.
Vaccinations can be obtained through GPs. If you are already 16 weeks pregnant and have not already been contacted by your GP you can get in touch with them directly to arrange a vaccination.
For more information, contact your GP, practice nurse or midwife or visit the pregnancy and baby page on the NHS website http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Whooping-cough