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Denmark to give pregnant women free whooping cough vaccinations

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Denmark to give pregnant women free whooping cough vaccinations
File photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix
18:06 CEST+02:00
Pregnant women will be offered free vaccinations against whooping cough, with an epidemic of the disease currently declared in Denmark.

Minister of Health Magnus Heunicke announced the temporary measure on Friday.

Specifically, women who are 32 weeks or more into their pregnancies will be entitled to the free vaccine when the offer comes into effect in November.

The free vaccination will be offered over an initial three-month period until the end of January, when the epidemic is expected to have passed.

Heunicke made the decision following advice from the Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen), DR reports.

“Whooping cough is an extremely contagious disease and it can be life-threatening for infants. We can see that there is currently a whopping cough epidemic in Denmark, and if you are vaccinated while pregnant that immunity will be passed on to the child you give birth to,” Heunicke told the broadcaster.

“That means the child will be protected against whooping cough during the first months of its life,” he added.

Medical and disease research institute Statens Serum Institut (SSI), which declared the epidemic last month, has said it could be the largest of its kind in the country in over a decade.

Over 3,400 cases are expect in total for 2019, of which 8 percent will be amongst children under a year old.

Both children and adults can be infected with the disease, but it is most dangerous for infants.

Denmark’s child vaccination programme already includes jabs against the disease, but Heunicke said it was currently important for babies to be resistant at birth.

“Fortunately there is very, very strong support for the whooping cough vaccine with regard to newborns and small children. And I hope that support will be just as strong amongst pregnant women,” he said to DR, adding:

“This is quite simply about saving lives, because whooping cough is extremely contagious and can be life-threatening.”

On its website, SSI describes typical whooping cough symptoms as “stroing coughing fits followed by wheezy breathing and possible vomiting”.

READ ALSO: Whooping cough epidemic declared in Denmark

 
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