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Friday 21st October 2016

Vaccination call for whooping cough

28th November 2008

Doctors say that vaccinating parents of newborns against whooping cough could prevent fatal infections in babies.

A team in Edinburgh, writing in the British Medical Journal, wants to see a policy change after the deaths of two young infants from whooping cough at the city’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

The researchers found infections among adults are rising and babies are vulnerable until they are first immunised at two months.

At present, children are vaccinated at two, three and four months and again before they start school. That programme has been successful in cutting infection rates, however, the Edinburgh team suggest another option is to give teenagers a booster as the vaccination is not lifelong and adults are still susceptible to whooping cough (pertussis).

Most hospitalisations and deaths from the infection currently come from babies who are too young to be vaccinated.

Dr Ulf Theilen, consultant in paediatric intensive care at the hospital, said: "What's important to understand is whooping cough is still perceived as a classical childhood disease but vaccination has been very successful and it's uncommon for children now.

"But once you're an older teenager or an adult you can get it again."

The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) looked last year at the possibility of introducing a booster vaccination against whooping cough for adolescents and parents of young babies but decided against any changes to the current whooping cough immunisation schedule.

"Recent statistics do not indicate a rise in the number of Whooping cough cases", said a Department of Health spokesperson.


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