FEWER babies in Warrington received vaccines against whooping cough in 2023 than a decade ago, latest figures show.

Whooping cough cases have risen this year, with three times as many cases as last year, according to the UK Health and Security Authority (UKHSA).

The highly contagious bacterial disease causes coughing fits and can make young children and babies very ill – with some cases resulting in death.

In March alone 1,319 cases of whooping cough were reported, compared to 858 cases in the entirety of 2023.

Across the previous 12 months, a total of 9,575 cases were reported nationally by GP’s to the UKHSA – including 26 cases in Warrington.

The World Health Organisation advises that 95 per cent of children should be vaccinated against preventable diseases, such as whooping cough.

While Warrington was one of only 31 areas to reach this target, vaccinations against the disease have dropped over the past decade.

UKHSA figures show that 95 per cent of babies in Warrington received their six-in-one vaccine by their first birthday, a drop of three per cent compared to a decade earlier.

Consultant paediatrician and chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, Sir Andrew Pollard, soke to BBC Radio 4, stating that under-vaccination is putting “the most vulnerable – those who are too young to have been vaccinated – at greatest risk.”

He also warned that the only solution to rising cases is to ensure higher vaccination rates.

“The troubling thing is that if we continue to have high rates of spread and low rates of vaccination, there will be more babies severely affected and sadly there will be more deaths,” he said.

"With cases of whooping cough continuing to rise sharply across the country, and today’s figures sadly showing five infant deaths, it is vital that families come forward to get the protection they need.”

There was also a drop in the number of pregnant women receiving the vaccine, as only 59 per cent did between October and December last year – down almost 16 per cent from the same quarter in 2016 to 2017.

"Very importantly, for this very vulnerable group, those who are too young to be vaccinated, is the vaccination rates in pregnant women,” said Sir Andrew.

"Very worryingly, those have fallen from a peak of about 75% of women being vaccinated during pregnancy to under 60% today, and that’s what puts these very young infants at particular risk."

"If you are pregnant and have not been vaccinated yet, or your child is not up-to-date with whooping cough or other routine vaccinations, please contact your GP as soon as possible, and if you or your child show symptoms ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111."