30. July 2012 12:54
The Department of Health is drawing up plans to immunise teenagers and pregnant women against whooping cough after the biggest outbreak of the disease in two decades.
Almost 2,500 cases have been reported in the first six months of this year resulting in the death of five babies.
Dr Mary Ramsey, head of immunisation, Health Protection Agency (HPA), said they were “working closely” with the DH’s Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) to tackle the “ongoing outbreak”.
Whooping cough, which may be fatal in young babies, can lead to pneumonia and bronchiectasis.
Meanwhile, pensioners may also be immunised with a shingles jab under revised Government plans.
Health Ministers first announced a vaccination programme in January 2010 but have faced supply issues after pharmaceutical companies struggled with manufacturing difficulties and overseas demand.
However, revised plans to give more than 4.5 million pensioners the jab from next year have now been confirmed by the Department of Health following advice from the JCVI.
A spokesperson from the DH said they were “disappointed” enough vaccines were not currently available to introduce the immunisation programme sooner.