The Scottish Government have announced that vaccination against pertussis (or whooping cough) is to be offered to pregnant women in order to protect their newborn infants, following a major rise in cases across the UK in 2012. Pertussis is highly contagious and young infants, who cannot normally be vaccinated until they are eight weeks old, are most at risk.
Offering the vaccine to pregnant women, including those who have previously been immunised, will boost the short term immunity passed to newborns. This will help protect them before they start to receive their own vaccinations at the age of eight weeks as part of the standard Childhood Immunisation Programme. It will still be important for parents to ensure that babies are immunised as close as possible to the age of eight weeks old. Uptake of this schedule is very high in Scotland, at over 95%.
The vaccination campaign will commence in October. More information is available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2012/09/Whooping-cough28092012 and http://www.immunisationscotland.org.uk/vaccines-and-diseases/whooping-cough.aspx
The most recent data on laboratory reports of pertussis received by HPS is available at http://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/immvax/othersources.aspx?subjectid=138&type=6&databaseid=1. Information on vaccine uptake is available at http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Child-Health/Immunisation/