THERE has been a jump in the number of whooping cough cases on the Isle of Wight compared with last year.
Concerns have been raised nationally about the illness, which can be fatal for children, leading to a vaccination programme for pregnant women.
Last year there were no confirmed cases on the Island, but between January and August this year, there have been 11.
Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth (SHIP) PCT cluster announced today (Tuesday) it was offering a vaccination against the illness to pregnant women.
Isle of Wight director of Public Health, Dr Jenifer Smith, on behalf of the directors of public health at SHIP, said: "Whooping cough affects all ages, but this on-going national increase has extended to very young babies.
"It’s this age group that is most likely to suffer severe complications or even death.
"That’s why the Department of Health is urging all women who are 28 weeks pregnant or more to have the vaccination.
"The immunity you get from the vaccine will pass to your baby through the placenta, helping to protect them during the first few weeks of life.
"If you are approaching 28 weeks pregnant, or are further along than that, then we urge you to find out more about the vaccine and to book an appointment to receive it.
"It’s also important that all parents ensure their children are vaccinated against whooping cough as part of their routine immunisations to continue protection throughout childhood."
For more information visit http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/whooping-cough-vaccination-pregnant.aspx