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Baby jab alert as whooping cough surges

WhOOPING cough cases have soared in the first three months of this year.

Some 76 cases have been confirmed, compared to just 16 cases for the same period last year, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

A similar increase in cases has also been recorded in the UK, where the authorities have written to family doctors urging them to stress the importance of vaccination.

Last year there were 229 notified cases of the disease here.

The HPSC says that "immunisation is the most effective way to prevent infection and limit the spread of pertussis (whooping cough)".

It recommends that infants should be vaccinated with three doses of vaccine at two, four and six months of age with a booster dose recommended at 4-5 years of age.

Last September the HSE also introduced a whooping cough booster for adolescents in the first year at secondary school.

This followed a recommendation of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee.

In the UK a rise in whooping cough has prompted the authorities to urge parents to get their children vaccinated.







Children

According to the Public Health Authority of Northern Ireland (PHA) more children have contracted whooping cough in the first three months of 2012 than in the entire year of 2011.

The PHA says that by the end of March of this year there were 27 confirmed cases in comparison with 13 confirmed cases in the whole of last year.

According to the Health Protection Agency there have been 665 cases in the UK this year, compared with 1,040 cases for the whole of last year.

The agency says the rise is particularly sharp among young children where there have been 65 confirmed cases in babies under three months compared with about 35 in a typical year.

Normally 95pc of one-year- olds receive their first doses of the five in one vaccine -- which includes whooping cough vaccine -- in their first year.

The figure has dropped to 88pc by the time the booster vaccination becomes due at age five.

Whooping cough, says the agency, tends to run in cycles, with the previous peak year in 2008 when there were 902 cases.

csheehy@herald.ie


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