Medics in Leeds are urging pregnant women to make sure they protect themselves against whooping cough as the winter bugs bite
Uptake among mums-to-be in the city has been low, as have the numbers of vulnerable people – especially children – having the flu jab.
Doctors say the illnesses can have extremely serious consequences for those at extra risk.
Dr Simon Balmer, public health consultant for NHS Leeds, said: “Whooping cough is highly contagious and newborns are particularly vulnerable.
“Over the last year we have seen a large rise in the number of whooping cough cases across the country with the most serious cases being in children too young to be protected by routine vaccinations.”
The biggest outbreak of whooping cough in 20 years affected almost 9,000 people across the country last year, and between January and October 13 infants died.
The highly contagious bacterial infection is characterised by intense coughing, followed by the distinctive ‘whooping’ noise.
Young children can develop complications like pneumonia which can be life threatening.
In Yorkshire, there were 925 cases of the infection between January and October.
During the same period in 2008 – the last ‘peak’ year – there were 55.
The Government has started a temporary vaccination programme for pregnant women, aiming to pass on immunity to newborns not normally given the jab until they are two months old.
Dr Balmer added: “We are pleased to be able to offer local mums the chance to protect their babies against whooping cough. If you are pregnant, getting vaccinated is the best way you can protect your baby.”
He added that everyone eligible for the flu jab, which also includes pregnant women, health workers and those especially vulnerable, should also make sure they had the vaccination.