Whooping Cough Vaccine

Whooping Cough Vaccine

Whooping cough (also called pertussis) is a bacterial infection of the lungs and breathing tubes that spreads very easily.

The whooping cough vaccine protects babies and children from getting whooping cough.There is no single whooping cough-only vaccine; the vaccine is routinely given as part of your baby’s vaccination schedule in the 6-in-1 vaccine for babies at 8, 12 and 16 weeks and again in the 4-in-1 pre-school booster.

How are babies protected against whooping cough?

Babies are protected initially through the vaccine that is offered to pregnant women ideally between 16 and 32 weeks of their pregnancy and then by the routine 6-in-1 vaccine.

Why can’t my baby be vaccinated as soon as it is born?

Your baby would not be protected from birth as it takes up to two weeks to develop a response to the vaccine and babies need three doses to build up full protection.

Why are pregnant women advised to have the vaccine?

Getting the vaccine during pregnancy is highly effective in protecting your baby from developing whooping cough in the first few weeks of their life until they are old enough to have their first dose against whooping cough at 8 weeks old.

When should pregnant women have the whooping cough vaccine?

The best time to get vaccinated to protect your baby is from 16 weeks up to 32 weeks of pregnancy.  

How is the vaccine given?

The whooping cough vaccine is given as an injection into the upper arm.

If I take the whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy will it give me whooping cough?

No. The whooping cough vaccine is not a “live” vaccine and cannot cause whooping cough in you, or in your baby.

Will my baby still need to be vaccinated at 8 weeks if I have had the vaccine whilst pregnant?

Yes. Your baby will still need to be vaccinated according to the normal vaccination schedule when they reach 8 weeks old. Babies are protected against whooping cough by the 6-in-1 vaccine.

Will the vaccine definitely mean my baby doesn’t get whooping cough?

No vaccination guarantees 100% protection but  published studies have shown that the vaccine is over 90% effective in protecting your baby from whooping cough until his or her vaccinations start at two months of age.

Is the vaccine safe?

There is no evidence to suggest that the whooping cough vaccine is unsafe for you or your unborn baby. There may be some mild side effects such as swelling, redness or tenderness, which only last a few days. Other side effects can include fever, irritation at the injection site, swelling of the vaccinated arm, loss of appetite, irritability and headache.

Serious side effects are extremely rare.

What if I miss the vaccine during  the 16- 32 week period?

If you miss having the vaccine, you can still have it up until you go into labour. At this stage of pregnancy, having the vaccination may not directly protect your baby, but it would help protect you from whooping cough and from passing it on to your baby.

Is the whooping cough vaccination in pregnancy effective?

Yes. Research fshows that vaccinating pregnant women against whooping cough has been highly effective in protecting young babies until they can have their first vaccination when they are 8 weeks old.

Can I have the whooping cough vaccine at the same time as the flu jab?

Yes, you can have the whooping cough vaccine when you get the flu vaccine.

What if I was vaccinated against whooping cough as a child – do I need to get vaccinated again?

You  are still advised to take the whooping cough vaccine as any protection you may have had through either having whooping cough or being vaccinated when you were young is likely to have worn off and will not provide sufficient protection for your baby.

I was vaccinated against whooping cough in a previous pregnancy, do I need to be vaccinated again?

Yes, you should get re-vaccinated from 16 weeks in each pregnancy to maximise protection for your baby.