EU agency issues a warning about the growing risk of whooping cough 

The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) has issued a warning about the tenfold surge in whooping cough (Pertussis) across the continent in the past year. This highlights the urgent need to ramp up vaccination efforts as the primary defence against the disease.

The reported cases in the EU/EEA soared to nearly 60,000 in the last year (2023/2024), compared to approximately 6,000 in the previous period (2022/2021).

Pertussis poses substantial risks of severe complications and mortality, particularly for infants, while adults, especially those with underlying health conditions, can also suffer severe illness. 

Pertussis, being an endemic disease, experiences cyclical outbreaks every three to five years, despite high vaccination rates in many countries. While low vaccination rates or declining immunity in the population can contribute to larger outbreaks, the decrease in natural immunity due to the COVID-19 pandemic may also play a role.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides echoed the concern, emphasising the central role of vaccination in saving lives and halting the spread of the disease.

Public health authorities are urged to promote vaccination programs and maintain high vaccination coverage levels, including ensuring timely completion of primary immunisation series and subsequent booster doses as per national guidelines.

Pregnant women in their second and third trimesters are especially encouraged to get vaccinated, given the vulnerability of newborns to the disease.

Pertussis immunisation during these pregnancy stages is considered to be both safe and highly effective in shielding newborns, who are too young to receive vaccinations themselves, from the disease and its associated mortality.

In a statement,  ECDC Director Andrea Ammon noted: “As we tackle this pertussis epidemic, it’s essential to remember the lives at stake, especially our little ones. Vaccines against pertussis have proven to be safe and effective […]. We have a responsibility, as parents or as public health professionals, to protect the most vulnerable group from the deadly impact of this disease”.

Please follow and like us: