MORE than half of expectant mothers in Worcestershire have had a vaccination to protect their unborn babies from whooping cough.

There was a 55.6 per cent uptake for the vaccine by pregnant women after it was introduced at the end of September following a dramatic increase in the number of cases of the highly infectious condition.

Of the 275 women expected to give birth in October in Worcestershire, 153 had received a dose of the Repevax vaccine.

Dr Ash Banerjee, public health consultant for NHS Worcestershire said he was very pleased with the uptake in Worcestershire, which compared with a 43.6 per cent figure nationally.

Dr Banerjee said: “We know that having the vaccine when you’re pregnant significantly reduces the risk of your child getting the whooping cough infection, which can be really serious in some cases.

“Although the early figures in Worcestershire and indeed nationally are encouraging, I would still echo calls for more pregnant women to get the vaccine.”

Medical professionals had urged women to have the jabs when they were introduced following a national increase in the number of cases of whooping cough this year.

The number of people with the highly infectious condition in Worcestershire by the start of October was six times higher than the previous year.

The provisional figures collected by the Department of Health were provided by GPs to their primary care trusts.

Infants are particularly vulnerable to whooping cough and there have already been 13 deaths of children aged under three months this year.

Professor David Salisbury, director of immunisation, said he was pleased women had taken up the offer of the whooping cough vaccine but urged women 28 to 38 weeks pregnant who had not yet had the jab to take it up.

He said: “It’s vital that babies are protected from the day they are born – that’s why we are encouraging all pregnant women to have the vaccination.”