IT was with great relief that I heard on the TV news that the take-up is good of whooping cough vaccine by pregnant mothers to help protect their unborn babies from catching this disease.

During the last years of WW2, I caught whooping cough when I was four years old, and was very ill indeed. In those days there was no such thing as antibiotics to beat the bug, and my mother was at her wits end to keep our living room warm enough to ease my breathing. Coal was expensive and hard to come by, and with my father abroad in the army, it was quite difficult. Bedtime in a cold room was a nightmare for months afterwards, as it took a long time for my lungs to adjust to the much colder air, even though a hot water bottle kept the rest of my body warm.

I would not wish any child to have to suffer what I did when I finally began junior school. I loved school and was eager to learn to read and write, and during the spring and summer, things were good.

But come the wintertime, even though my mum spent as much as she could afford to buy me a good warm coat and make sure I had warm woollies to wear, when other kids caught colds, my colds quickly turned to bronchitis, and these attacks would mean at least three weeks off school before I was well enough to return.

A couple of these bouts of bronchitis each winter was the norm for me, and of course I missed great chunks of time when learning was a crucial part of my life. Fortunately, we had good, dedicated teachers at Sands Primary School, and they helped me catch up again when I returned to classes.

As the years went by, the attacks became less frequent, but it left me with a weakness in the lungs, and when as a student of 13 at Technical School I started to play hockey, a couple of runs across the pitch was as much as I could manage at first, and a walk up a steep hill meant several stops to catch my breath.

Eventually I grew out of it, but those constant illnesses were not pleasant for me or for any of my family. So if any soon-to-be-mum has doubts about getting vaccinated, please go ahead and get it done, so hopefully your child will never know the traumas I suffered in my childhood due to this debilitating illness.

Judith Smith, details supplied