Whooping cough vaccine 'for nurses'
It has been recommended that healthcare professionals who work with young children should be vaccinated against whopping cough.
Some 675 cases of the infection were seen in June - taking the number of cases in 2012 up to 2,466.
Up to July last year, there had just been 311 reports of whooping cough.
The outbreak has begun to affect young babies in England and Wales, and this is the group most at risk of death or complications, the Health Protection Agency said.
In Northern Ireland and Scotland, rising levels of the infection have also been reported.
Every three to four years, a rise in the number of whooping cough cases are seen, with the latest outbreak beginning at the end of last year.
Before it became routine to vaccinate against whooping cough in 1957, there were large-scale outbreaks in the UK.
The illness could affect up to 150,000 people with about 300 dying in 12 months.
Some 186 cases have been reported in infants under three this year, in comparison with 72 cases in the same time in 2011. Five babies died from whooping cough.
The Health Protection Agency’s head of immunisation, Mary Ramsay, said she was “very concerned” with the rise in cases.
Ways to combat the outbreak are being considered by the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises the Department of Health.
At the June meeting of the JCVI, the committee recommended whooping cough vaccination for healthcare workers working with young babies to protect them against the infection and to stop any risk of them passing the infection on to other patients.
Dr Ramsay said: “We welcome the JCVI review of the current vaccination recommendations. In the meantime we are actively reviewing our cases to see what interventions could have the quickest impact on the spread.”