From Monday pregnant women can be vaccinated against whooping cough.
The Today Programme heard from nine-year-old Zara Mummery who described having the cough when she was seven as "very frightening". Her mother Katrina explained it as "one of the most terrifying things a parent can go through".
Professor David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation for the Department for Health, said that whooping cough is "very serious and can be fatal" for young children and babies, especially those less than two months old.
Professor Salisbury described the vaccination as "a sensible approach to dealing with a problem that we must get on top of quickly".