EXPECTANT mum Chelsea Thompson is today urging other pregnant women to have a jab protecting their unborn babies from whooping cough, after her four-week-old daughter died from the disease.

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Whooping cough

- The main symptom is a hacking cough followed by a sharp intake of air which sounds like a ‘whoop’

- In rare cases it can be fatal

- Children are vaccinated against the infection at two, three and four months of age

- Last year 13 infants died as a result of whooping cough

- In 2012 there were nearly 400 cases of the disease in children under three months old

- In response to a sharp rise in the number of cases last year the Department of Health now recommends all pregnant women are vaccinated

- Women are vaccinated when they are between 28 and 38 weeks pregnant

The 21-year-old is due to give birth to her second daughter in two weeks and said she did not hesitate when offered the new vaccine.

Her plea comes as new figures reveal a huge rise in the number of mums taking up the chance to protect their unborn babies.

In October just 39.7% of mums in Suffolk had received the pertussis [the medical term for whooping cough] vaccine.

But the December figures from the Department of Health reveal 73% of pregnant women had the jab – an 84.8% rise in two months – and higher than the national average of 54.5%.

In March last year tiny Sarae Thompson-Haynes died at Great Ormond Street Hospital after developing a nasty cough.

Two days after her death her distraught parents received test results confirming their baby girl had died as a result of whooping cough.

Encouraged by the rise, Miss Thompson said it is vital that all expectant mums take their chance to protect their unborn babies from the disease which left her and her partner Todd Haynes devastated.

Miss Thompson, who lives in Chantry, told The Star she wishes she had been given the option to have the jab when she was expecting Sarae.

“I don’t know why any mum would take the risk,” she said.

“It really isn’t worth it – I wish I had been given the chance to have the jab with Sarae. Things would be very different now.

“As a mum your instinct is to do everything to protect your children.

“I know some pregnant women are reluctant to have jabs but in this case it could mean the difference between life and death for your baby.

“I don’t know why anyone would think twice about having it.”

Miss Thompson said she feels so strongly about women having the vaccine, she thinks it should be mandatory for all expectant mums.

She added: “What if something happened to your baby and you had refused this vaccine?

“You would never be able to live with yourself.

“Your newborn baby can’t be vaccinated for a few months so there is nothing you can do. That’s why it is so important to do something before they are born, to protect them.”

Looking forward to the birth of her second daughter, Miss Thompson and her partner Mr Haynes, 23, said it is a time of “mixed emotions”.

“We can’t wait for her to arrive now,” Miss Thompson added.

“She is going to have Rae as her middle name in memory of Sarae.

“But it will be hard, she should have a big sister to meet too.”

n Tell us your health stories. Write to health reporter Lizzie Parry at Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, e-mail lizzie.parry@archant.co.uk or call 01473 324739.

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