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Health officials in the UK have announced that five babies have died from whooping cough as cases rise throughout England.

The UK Health Security Agency reported 1,319 cases across England in March, a rise from around 900 in February.

In 2024, there has been a total of almost 2,800 cases.

Whopping cough can serious for babies and infants and half of the cases have been seen in under 15s and the highest rate in babies under three months of age.

The five babies who died were all under the age of three months.

The disease peaks every three to five years and health officials said there had been a decline in the uptake of the vaccine in pregnant women and children.

Families are being urged to come forward and get vaccinated.

Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, Consultant Epidemiologist at UK Health Security Agency, said: “Vaccination remains the best defence against whooping cough and it is vital that pregnant women and young infants receive their vaccines at the right time.

“Pregnant women are offered a whooping cough vaccine in every pregnancy, ideally between 20 and 32 weeks.

“This passes protection to their baby in the womb so that they are protected from birth in the first months of their life when they are most vulnerable and before they can receive their own vaccines.

“All babies are given three doses of the 6 in 1 jab at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age to protect against whooping cough and other serious diseases such as diphtheria and polio with a pre-school booster offered at 3 years 4 months.

“Whooping cough can affect people of all ages but for very young babies it can be extremely serious. Our thoughts and condolences are with those families who have so tragically lost their baby.”

Whooping cough starts similarly to a cold, with a runny nose and sore throat. However, within a week, the infection develops into coughing bouts that last several minutes, which are worse at night.

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