Newborn babies could be vaccinated against whooping cough following a surge in the number of cases of the potentially fatal disease.
The Department of Health's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is considering whether to expand the programme after figures showed there had already been three times as many cases this year as there were last year.
Babies are currently given the whooping cough vaccine at two, three and four months old.
A number of options are being considered by the committee of doctors, including introducing a booster dose in teenagers and protecting newborn babies by giving them a vaccination, as well as their families and pregnant women.
The latest data shows that some 1,047 cases of whooping cough in England and Wales were reported to the Health Protection Agency in July, bringing the total number of cases so far this year to 3,523.
This compares with 1,118 for the whole of 2011.
Since 2002, when 354 cases were recorded, there has almost been a 10-fold increase.
The outbreak has mainly affected teenagers and young adults but high numbers of cases have also been seen in very young babies, who are at highest risk of severe complications.
GP Sarah Jarvis told Sky News: "The problem we have got is that babies tend to be the ones who die.
"We have already had 300-plus cases of babies being affected under three-months this year and six of them sadly have died."
This figure compares with five in the whole of 2008.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, affects all ages.
The highly infectious bacterial disease comes and goes in a cycle, with increased incidence occurring every three to four years.
The last peak was in 2008, when 421 cases were reported to the HPA between January 1 and June 30.
Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, an expert in immunisation at the HPA, said: "We are very concerned about the continuing increase in cases.
"Parents should ensure their children are vaccinated on time so that they are protected at the earliest opportunity and be alert to the signs and symptoms - which include severe coughing fits accompanied by the characteristic 'whoop' sound in young children but as a prolonged cough in older children or adults.
"We also advise parents to keep their babies away from older siblings or adults who have the infection."
A Department of Health spokesman said: "We continue to see high uptake of vaccination against whooping cough and are investigating the recent increase in cases. This highlights the importance of vaccination against this and other illnesses.
"The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is looking at whether more people need to be vaccinated. Careful consideration is always needed around expanding any programme.
"Parents should make sure their children are up to date with all vaccinations, and should speak to their GP if they need advice."