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Independents' Day

RCGP says pertussis vaccine rates remain ‘too low’

Only a fifth of pregnant women in some areas have received the whooping cough vaccine, according to preliminary figures obtained from PCTs.

The DH released official figures today showing that half of pregnant women have received the vaccination, but statistics obtained by Pulse from 34 PCTs show that the percentage of pregnant women who received the whooping cough vaccination in October or November ranged from 21% to 77% across the UK.

The rates were described as ‘too low’ by the RCGP lead on immunisation, as cases of whooping cough continue to rise.

Figures from the Health Protection Agency show that cases of whooping cough have soared this year. Up to the end of October, the number of cases so far this year was nearly 10 times higher than for the same period in 2008, the last ‘peak’ year before the current outbreak.

The programme was introduced to boost the short-term immunity passed on by women to their newborn babies, who would normally not be vaccinated until two months old.

But there have been problems rolling out the programme, with Pulse reporting last month that midwives in some areas were refusing to take part.

The range of women vaccinated in October and November ranged from 21% to 77%, while for those who provided data from from October to 7 December it was between 37% and 60%.

Just 21% of women in Heart of Birmingham PCT with a due delivery date in October received the vaccination after the DH launched the temporary programme to vaccinate women between 28 and 38 weeks pregnant.

A spokesperson for NHS Birmingham and Solihull said: ‘We are expecting to see an improvement in the next uptake figures.’

NHS Cheshire, Warrington and Wirral PCT Cluster administered vaccines to 24% of women due in October 2012, although a cluster spokesperson said there was ‘major under-reporting’.

Dr George Kassianos, the RCGP’s lead on immunisation and a GP in Bracknell, Berkshire, said current uptake rates were unacceptable.

He said: ‘These figures are too low. There is no reason why we can’t achieve 100% if all pregnant women agree to the vaccine. This cannot be achieved by GPs alone. There is a need for a national official information campaign by the DH and a great deal of co-operation of midwives.’


Uptake figures

Percentage of women who had a pertussis-containing vaccination in October: 

  • NHS Heart of Birmingham 21%
  • NHS Cheshire Warrington and Wirral 24%
  • NHS Sandwell 27%
  • NHS Bournemouth and Poole 28%

Source: 34 PCTs, data on file

Readers' comments (25)

  • nothing new about this. the main reason for the low uptake is that the midwifery community are refusing to jab patients on the grounds that they haven't the time/ resources or aren't trained to do.
    the same thing happened with swine flu.
    at the end of the day good immunisation uptakes are only obtained if the clinician who sees the patient face to face is willing to explain/ persuade and finally put good advice into action by jabbing the patient there and then.
    money isn't the issue. I'm sure my practice would willingly forego the immunisation fee if the midwives were to jab the patients on our behalf.
    interestingly the present whooping cough outbreak may be a legacy of the poor immunisation uptakes in the early 1980's when a well respected but misinformed MP in Stoke on Trent raised a great deal of anxiety about the safety of whooping cough immunisation in the early 1980's.
    I've still got a cassette tape of a child with whooping cough which I used to play to reluctant parents at the time.

    Dr AG Bennett GP in North Staffordshire.

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  • I also believe the uptake looks low as we can only report the vaccine given once you are in the edd month. Ideally if the midwives were activelely involved in giving the vaccines the uptake may be improved.

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  • Dear Anonymous

    Don't worry!. The little men in white coats are on their way.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Has this campaign been run properly by the government ? NO
    Were we(GP) properly briefed and prepared for the campaign? NO
    Has the whole thing been thought throughoutly ? NO
    Do you really think the public and these pregnant women fully understand the implications? NO
    Is this the fault of the government/DoH ? YES

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  • This comment has been deleted by the moderator. Please remember that while this is an open forum our terms and conditions don't allow for offensive language or personal attacks

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  • Cowardly to post such ill advised posts against vaccination as anonymous. Sadly I have lost the 30yr old tape of my daughter during a whooping episode which I would gladly use as an example of how distressing it is. She missed her vaccinations because we were poorly advised at the time.
    John Wilson

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  • There is no evidence, scietific of otherwise to support the errenous vaccine hypothisis.
    My name is elizabeith logen. Im a violinist. Before that i read medcine for three years.
    Then i woke up & relized id rather tell the truth to paitents than lie or stick my head in the sand in order to have a medical career.
    I know many mothers that have lost thier unborn babies due to the flu vaccine. Im sure the whooping cough vaccine will be no different for already immune compromised pregnant mothers.
    Elizabeth logen

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  • It's lucky that we have a violinist with half a medical degree to advise us. Can you please tell us which other bits of 'modern medicine' are 'quackery' so that we can all adjust our practice?

    Surgery perhaps?

    I've got my notebook ready....

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  • Oh sorry! Wasnt awere that one had to be a god sorry doctor to post on this site! When wil drs get over themselves!?
    Chemo & radation kill the immune system alone with the cancer! Youd think medicine could come up with better than that after 60 years "war" on cancer right?

    Iv seen medicine proved to be quackery over a number of years in the lives of friends &family not to mention my own.
    One dr could not even diagnose my twin pregnancy! At almost four months so i had to pay to see a midwife. She found two heart beats on her doppler no problem. But i digress.
    Wakefild was a hero.

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  • >Chemo & radation kill the immune system alone with the cancer!

    Of course treatments have side effects - anything effective potentially does. But you didn't answer the question - are antibiotics, surgery, and chemotherapy all quackery? And what would you, with your breadth of knowledge, advise instead of chemotherapy? Let me guess - high dose Vitamin C? Or perhaps oregano extract?

    Your Wakefield comment rather gives you away. His methods (including how he took blood samples at a birthday party for a fiver a pop) are now legend. The problem with you vaccine deniers is that you parody amusing!

    I take it that, in the unfortunate even that you are diagnosed with a heart problem / pneumonia / stroke etc, that you will not be seeing a physician?

    By the way, when you state "Wasnt awere that one had to be a god sorry doctor to post on this site!" did you not read the message at the top? It says "This site is intended for health professionals only"

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