Pregnant women and parents must ensure children are protected against whooping cough, despite rates of the potentially fatal illness falling across Teesside last year.
That’s the message from Stockton’s director of public health Peter Kelly as figures show just over 40% of pregnant women had the vaccine aimed at protecting their unborn babies between October 2012 to September 2013.
Cases of whooping cough in the North-east rocketed from 69 in 2011 to 412 in 2012, amid the worst outbreak for 20 years.
But new figures show this eased to 268 in 2013.
The latest statistics, from Public Health England (PHE), also show cases of whooping cough across Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton fell from 34 in 2012 to 30 in 2013. The drop followed the start of an immunisation campaign for pregnant women in September 2012. Parents were also issued with urgent reminders to ensure their babies were immunised just before their first birthday.
Speaking of the uptake in toddlers of the five-in-one vaccine, which also protects against diptheria, tetanus, polio and a bacterial infection which can cause pneumonia or meningitis, a spokesman for Public Health England said: “In general, the uptake in the North-east as a whole and in the Tees area has been 95% uptake or above over the last couple of years, which is slightly better than the national average.”
The average uptake in England for toddlers who got the vaccine before their first birthday was 94.6% between October 2012 and September 2013 and 96.4% had received it by their second birthday.
Mr Kelly added: “We are delighted that the uptake on Teesside has been so good. It is a very safe and effective vaccine that protects children and mums from what can be a very serious disease.”
Meanwhile, rates for pregnant women who had the vaccine in the Durham, Darlington and Tees practice area between October 2012 and September 2013 were recorded on a month-by-month basis.
They ranged from as low as 10.5% in the month of June 2013 to a high of 77.5% in October 2012 - just after the warning about the need for pregnant women to have the vaccine was first issued.
But the average uptake among pregnant women across the year as a whole for Durham Darlington and Tees was 40.4%.
Mr Kelly said the vaccine, offered to pregnant women between 28 and 38 weeks, was also “very safe and effective” for them, adding: “Pregnant women who have it are effectively protecting their baby when it is born from a disease which can be very distressing.”
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