A HEALTH chief has urged parents to speak to their GPs about immunisations - after new figures revealed fewer babies in Bradford were vaccinated against whooping cough last year than a decade ago.

Latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows 89.7 per cent of babies in Bradford had received their six-in-one vaccine by their first birthday, which provides immunisation against a range of diseases including whooping cough.

This was up from 88.6 per cent the year before, but was a drop from 96.1 per cent a decade earlier.

It means Bradford did not reach the 95 per cent vaccination target set by the UKHSA.

According to the NHS, whooping cough is a bacterial infection of the lungs and breathing tubes. It spreads very easily and can sometimes cause serious problems. 

Last week, the UKHSA confirmed five babies in England sadly died after being diagnosed with whooping cough in the three months to March.

Sarah Muckle, director of public health at Bradford Council, said: "We encourage parents of young children to speak to their GPs about childhood immunisations such as the six-in-one and MMR.

"These provide safe and effective protection against potentially fatal diseases including whooping cough, measles and others.

"Pregnant women can also protect their young babies from developing whooping cough in the first few months of life by getting vaccinated during pregnancy.”

She added: "There is work currently being done in Bradford district to increase vaccination rates in children, including working with our partners in the NHS and UKHSA to reach out to communities with low uptake to provide advice around childhood immunisations.

"For example, Modality Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven partnership has been proactively contacting parents of eligible children and hosting clinics at Airedale Shopping Centre alongside community partners like Keighley Health Living.

"They have seen more families come forward to protect their children against these dangerous diseases, with a 43 per cent increase in the number of babies having the six-in-one immunisation  - which includes protection against whooping cough - before eight months since August 2023."

Last week, the UKHSA reported 1,319 cases of whooping cough in England in March, after just over 900 in February, making the 2024 total nearly 2,800.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS in England, said: "With cases of whooping cough continuing to rise sharply across the country, and figures sadly showing five infant deaths, it is vital that families come forward to get the protection they need."