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Whooping cough campaign leads to drop in cases

The number of confirmed cases of whooping cough has dropped for the fifth month running – although numbers remain unusually high because of a sustained outbreak last year.

Public Health England figures show that there were 434 cases in March, compared to 544 in February and 650 in January.

The figures are released as Public Health England, the Department of Health and NHS England confirmed that a campaign to immunise pregnant women against whooping cough between weeks 28 and 38 will be extended. This provides protection for babies against whooping cough in the early months after birth.

The immunisation campaign has proved controversial, with GPs doing the lions’ share of the work after midwives said they did not have enough capacity or training.

Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, consultant epidemiologist for immunisation at Public Health England, said: ‘The March figures show a welcome continued decrease in the number of whooping cough cases since October and we hope this will continue as pregnant women continue to get vaccinated.

‘It is important for parents to ensure their children are vaccinated against whooping cough on time, even babies of women who have had the vaccine in pregnancy. This is to continue their baby’s protection through childhood.’

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