Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Vaccinations in Pregnancy

15 March 2024

Whooping cough (pertussis) cases are rising and babies who are too young to start their vaccinations are at greatest risk.

553 new cases were confirmed in England during January 2024, compared with 858 cases for the whole of 2023.

Young babies with whooping cough are often very unwell and many are likely to need hospital treatment as it can lead to pneumonia and permanent brain damage.

If you are pregnant, you can help protect your baby by getting vaccinated – ideally from 16 weeks up to 32 weeks pregnant. The immunity you get from the vaccine passes to your baby through the placenta and protects them until they are old enough to be vaccinated at 8 weeks old.

Vaccination in pregnant women is 97% effective at preventing death in young infants from whooping cough.

The whooping cough vaccine has been administered during pregnancy for over 10 years, and getting vaccinated whilst pregnant is highly effective in protecting your baby from developing whooping cough in the first few weeks of their life.

If for any reason you miss having the vaccine, you can still have it up until the end of pregnancy.

You can access a whooping cough vaccine from your GP and through some antenatal clinics. You may be offered the vaccination at a routine antenatal appointment from around 16 weeks of your pregnancy.

If you are more than 16 weeks pregnant and have not been offered the vaccine, talk to your midwife or GP and make an appointment to get vaccinated.

For further advice on getting your whooping cough vaccinations in your area, speak with your local maternity service.

Find out more. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/whooping-cough/

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