A worryingly high number of cases are being confirmed by NHS England of Pertussis (Whooping Cough) in adolescents and adults, who usually suffer a milder form of the disease but with a cough that may persist for many weeks, hence the nickname of the 100 day cough.
Taking figures provided by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) from medical practitioners referrals of suspected cases to the local authority or health protection team, 716 patients were thought to have had Whooping Cough in England and Wales between 1 July and 26 November, which is over three times the 217 cases reported in the same period of 2022.*
The reasons for this increase are not completely understood but waning immunity following vaccination and/or natural infection are likely to be factors, although raised awareness and testing have also contributed to the increase in reported cases amongst adolescents and adults.
It comes as vaccination uptake is at a seven-year low, separate data shows, with figures for 2022 showing an average vaccination uptake across England of only 61.5 per cent, a decrease of 3.9 per cent since 2021 and 7.6 per cent from 2020.
Importantly, pregnant women can help protect their babies by getting vaccinated for Whooping Cough, ideally in Weeks 16 to 32 weeks of their pregnancy. The safety of the vaccine is supported by an MHRA’s study of around 20,000 vaccinated women published in the British Medical Journal found no evidence of risks to pregnancy or babies.**