EIGHTY per cent of pregnant women in the Ashton, Leigh and Wigan Primary Care Trust area had whooping cough vaccine in December, almost 50 per cent more than the national average.

National figures just released show that 55 per cent of pregnant women had the vaccine – which can protect new born infants against the potentially deadly whooping cough virus.

In the North West 66.2 per cent of pregnant women had the whooping cough vaccine in December 2012 but ALW PCT figures reveal that of 120 women expected to give birth that month 96 were vaccinated.

Bury PCT and Wolverhampston PCT were the table toppers both with a 100 per cent vaccination take-up rate.

Professor David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation said: "I’m pleased that nationally more than half of pregnant women took up the offer of the whooping cough vaccine in December. But I’d urge more women in the North West to get it to protect their baby.

“Whooping cough is highly contagious and infants are particularly vulnerable. In England 14 infants died as a result of whooping cough 2012 and there were 429 cases of the disease in children under three months old. It's vital that babies are protected from the day they are born - that's why we are encouraging all pregnant women to be vaccinated."