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EU ramps up vaccination efforts in response to Whooping Cough

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) called for member states to increase their vaccination efforts in response to a significant increase in reported cases of Whooping Cough.

The ECDC said in a press release that from 2023 to April this year, nearly 60,000 cases of potentially fatal infection were reported by countries in the European Union/European Economic Area — a tenfold increase compared to the previous two years, with over 32,000 cases reported between January and March alone.

The rise in Whooping Cough, also known as Pertussis, can be linked to several factors, including expected epidemic peaks, lack of vaccination or outdated vaccinations, waning immunity and decreased natural boosting in the overall population during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ECDC said.

Infants younger than six months face the highest risk of severe outcomes, with the majority of pertussis-related hospitalizations and deaths occurring in this age group, the ECDC said.

ECDC Director Andrea Ammon highlighted the importance of vaccination, saying that “vaccines against pertussis have proven to be safe and effective, and every action we take today shapes the health of tomorrow.”

“We have a responsibility, as parents or as public health professionals, to protect the most vulnerable group from the deadly impact of this disease,” Ammon noted.

EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the need for vigilance and the critical role of vaccination in preventing the spread of the disease.

While EU/EEA countries recommend maternal immunization alongside childhood vaccination, the ECDC urged public health authorities to enhance surveillance and vaccination efforts. Additionally, member states were encouraged to communicate the risks of the disease and the importance of vaccination to promote vaccine acceptance and uptake.

Famagusta Gazette