Whooping cough on the rise in Hackney – with parents urged to get their children vaccinated

Photograph: Flickr

Parents are being urged to get their children vaccinated against whooping cough – which is circulating in Hackney and Haringey.

Local health bosses warned that some children are having to be treated in hospital.

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection of the lungs and breathing tubes, and it can cause dehydration, breathing problems, pneumonia or fits in young babies.

Older children and adults can be affected by middle ear problems, sore ribs, hernia, and urinary incontinence.

Hospital treatment is needed for babies under six months and adults with severe symptoms.

Vaccination rates in Hackney are low and medics are asking families to ensure their children are protected.

The vaccine can be given to expectant mothers from 16 weeks, and newborns can be given the vaccine from eight weeks old. The vaccine is then given at 12 and 16 weeks, with a booster when children reach three years and four months old.

Only 67 per cent of babies in Hackney had the six-in-one vaccine, including against whooping cough, by the time they are one, according to the latest quarterly statistics.

This compares with just 56 per cent who get the four-in-one pre-school booster vaccine, which again includes protection against whooping cough.

Parents can contact their GP surgery to arrange the vaccine.

Early signs of whooping cough include a runny nose or sore throat that can be followed by coughing bouts, whooping, or gasping for breath between coughs. Young children may turn blue or grey after coughing.

If it is diagnosed within three weeks, patients will be given antibiotics as whooping cough spreads very easily.

People can get an urgent GP appointment or advice from NHS 111 if a baby under six months old has symptoms, if they or their child has a very bad cough, or if they are pregnant and been in contact with someone with whooping cough.

Parents of children with weakened immune systems who have been in contact with someone with the illness should also ask for medical advice.