High uptake of whooping cough jab11th December 2012
The Department of Health has confirmed that the number of pregnant women getting the whooping cough jab has been "extraordinarily good".
There have been almost 10,000 cases of whooping cough in the UK this year and it has caused the deaths of 13 babies.
The DH brought in the jab across the UK this autumn after the most serious outbreak of the illness for 20 years.
The data showed 44% of "eligible" females - pregnant women between 28 and 38 weeks - in England had been for the jab.
Professor David Salisbury, the director of immunisation in England, told the BBC: "It really is an extraordinarily good result. October's the first month we've got figures and to go straight in at 40% is fantastic."
Whooping cough is caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis and rarely causes death in adults who get it.
However, newborns and young babies have the highest danger of developing complications and dying.
The vaccine, when given to a pregnant woman, causes her immune system to produce more antibodies which attack the whooping cough bacteria. The antibodies pass to the unborn child and protect it when it is born.
Dr David Elliman, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, commented that the data was "not bad at all" considering the speed at which the scheme was brought in.
He added: "Obviously you want to aim much higher, but I would expect it to go up."
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