Midwives back whooping cough campaign

Residents in south east ‘in hibernation’

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MIDWIVES have backed a national campaign to get more people vaccinated against whooping cough.

The new initiative by the Department of Health comes after figures revealed an increase in the number of people catching the illness.

There have been 126 confirmed cases so far this year in Portsmouth, Southampton, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth, compared with just three in 2011.

Most of these cases – 93 – are in people aged 15 or older, but eight have been reported in children under the age of 12 months.

Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: ‘This campaign has our full support. Whooping cough is on the increase among young babies and it can be a dangerous and potentially fatal infection.’

The college is encouraging pregnant women to have the vaccine in the final stages of pregnancy to protect themselves and their baby from the disease in the first weeks after it is born.

‘Having the vaccination will also help to stop the spread of the disease to other people,’ Ms Silverton added.

‘If any pregnant woman is unsure about this I would encourage them to speak to their midwife or doctor to discuss the issue.’

Whooping cough is a contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways. The condition usually begins with a persistent cough which gets worse.