Vaccination call as whooping cough cases soar in Rotherham

Ben AndersonBen Anderson
Ben Anderson
A HUGE rise in whooping cough cases in Rotherham has prompted health leaders to call for pregnant women and children to be vaccinated.

There were 24 suspected cases in South Yorkshire in the week ending April 21, government figures show, following “a steady decline” in vaccine uptake.

In Rotherham, just two suspected cases have been recorded for the week ending May 5 – the lowest in South Yorkshire. Thirty-five suspected cases have been reported this year.

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However, the number of confirmed cases in Rotherham is up significantly when compared to this time last year.

Babies are particularly vulnerable to the infection, with five dying between January and March in England this year.

Ben Anderson, director for public health in Rotherham, has urged pregnant women and the parents of young babies and infants to take up the vaccine.

Whooping cough – also known as pertussis – is a highly contagious bacterial infection that mainly affects the lungs and airways.

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Initial symptoms are similar to those of a common cold, including a runny nose and a mild fever.

After about two weeks, the characteristic cough develops – often leading to uncontrolled bouts of intense coughing that can last for several minutes and often lead to patients making a distinctive “whooping” sound as they gasp for breath between coughing fits.

Mr Anderson said: “We know from reports of suspected cases by GPs across the country, that cases of whooping cough are rising, which is in line with what UK Health Security Agency data shows. Similar patterns have also been seen in Rotherham, with a 90 times increase in confirmed cases this year compared to the same period in 2023.

Vaccination is best line of defence against whooping cough, which can cause serious illness in young babies and infants.

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“I would urge anyone who is pregnant, or a parent to a child too young to have the vaccination, to contact your GP as soon as possible. This is also the case for children not up-to-date with their whooping cough or other routine childhood vaccinations.

“If you or your child show symptoms of whooping cough, in the first instance contact your GP for an urgent appointment or get advice from NHS 111.”

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