Pregnant women are to be vaccinated against whooping cough, health officials said, after the biggest outbreak of the illness for 20 years claimed the lives of 10 babies.
The infants, all under the age of three months, died this year as a result of the infectious disease. There have been 4,791 confirmed cases in England and Wales between January and August – four times more than the total figure for 2011, the Health Protection Agency said.
Babies cannot receive the jab until they are two months old. Vaccinating mothers before the babies are born will boost their immunity until then.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Sally Davies, the Government's principal medical adviser, said that pregnant women will be offered the vaccination from Monday.