Pregnant women are urged to get whooping cough jab
Pregnant women are being urged to get the whooping cough vaccine after figures showed a 24pc rise in cases of the disease.
Just over half (56pc) of pregnant women have the vaccine, with experts believing some are put off the idea of receiving jabs in pregnancy.
Whooping cough can be fatal, particularly in young babies who can develop it before they receive their usual routine vaccine at two months.
It usually begins with mild, cold-like symptoms that develop into coughing fits. The cough can last for two or three months.
New data from Public Health England (PHE) showed a rise in cases of whooping cough in the first six months of the year (1,744 cases) compared with the same period last year (1,412).
While the number of cases among babies aged under three months remains low, suggesting the vaccine is having an effect, experts are concerned that babies born to unvaccinated mothers are still at risk.
PHE research shows that babies have a 91pc lower risk of whooping cough in their first weeks of life if their mother had the vaccine in pregnancy.
"The latest figures show that whooping cough is still prevalent in England and it's important that pregnant women visit their GP or midwife to get vaccinated, ideally between weeks 28 and 32 of their pregnancy," said Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE.
"Being vaccinated while you're pregnant is an effective way to protect your baby in the first few weeks of their life."