Pertussis vaccine coverage in pregnant women in England averaged 72.2 per cent across the first quarter of 2020, 1.1 percentage points higher than coverage for the same quarter in 2018/2019, the latest data from Public Health England (PHE).
Overall, prenatal pertussis vaccine coverage between January 2020 and March 2020 remained above 70 per cent, decreasing from 72.5 per cent in January 2020 to 72.0 per cent in March 2020.
This follows a similar downward trend at the beginning of the year which has been seen in previous years and could be due to the end of the influenza season (where increased opportunities and signposting for pre-natal pertussis vaccine are observed during the influenza season), said PHE.
Additionally, annual vaccine coverage for the financial year 2019/2020 was 70.5 per cent, 1.7 percentage points higher compared with 2018/2019, the report shows.
In 2019, there were 3681 laboratory confirmed cases reported to the Pertussis Enhanced Surveillance Programme in England.
In line with the cyclical nature of pertussis disease, the total confirmed in 2019 was 25 per cent higher than the 2948 reported in 2018.
The incidence in England was 7/100,000 in 2019 compared with 5/100,000 in the previous year and 8/100,000 in 2017; it had reached 18/100,000 in 2012 (epidemic peak year). Prior to the major peak in 2012, annual incidence ranged between 0.4/100,000 and 2/100,000.
The number of confirmed cases in infants aged less than three months in 2019 was 69 per cent higher (83 cases) than in 2018 when 49 cases were reported. However, incidence in this age group continues to decline overall.
Raised levels of pertussis persist in all age groups other than infants, and it therefore continues to be important to encourage women to be immunised against pertussis at the optimal time during pregnancy in order to protect babies from birth, said PHE.
The maternal pertussis immunisation programme, introduced in response to the 2012 outbreak, became permanent from June 2019.