PREGNANT women are being advised to protect their babies by getting vaccinated against whopping cough.
Following a rise in cases and deaths among young infants, expectant mothers in the East of England are now being offered the vaccination.
The latest figures from the Health Protection Agency show there were 515 confirmed cases in the region in the first eight months of this year, compared to 64 in 2011 and just 14 in 2010.
Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies said: “Whooping cough is highly contagious and newborns are particularly vulnerable.
“Nine infants have died as a result of whooping cough this year and there have been 302 cases of the disease in children under three-months-old.
“It’s vital that babies are protected from the day they are born – that’s why we are offering the vaccine to all pregnant women.”
The jabs, being offered during routine antenatal appointments, aim to boost the short-term immunity passed on to babies by pregnant women.
Meanwhile, the publication of the county’s annual health report shows Suffolk has a largely healthy population and compares well with the rest of the country, with lower than national average rates of death from cancer, liver disease and respiratory disease.
But Smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death, and of health inequalities.