Image of pregnant woman being vaccinated. Text reads: If you’re pregnant, getting vaccinated gives your child the best protection against whooping cough. Getting vaccinated is quick and easy. Speak to your midwife or contact your GP practice.

Whooping cough rates have risen sharply in recent months. Babies who are too young to start their vaccinations are at greatest risk.

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection of the lungs and airways. It spreads very easily through coughing and sneezing and can sometimes cause serious health problems, especially in young babies.

Whooping cough rates have risen sharply in recent months. Babies who are too young to start their vaccinations are at greatest risk.

Young babies with whooping cough often become very unwell and most will be admitted to hospital. When whooping cough is particularly severe, they can die.

How can you protect your baby?

Pregnant women can help protect their babies by getting vaccinated. When you have the whooping cough vaccination in pregnancy, your body produces antibodies to protect against whooping cough. These antibodies pass to your baby through the placenta giving them high levels of protection until they’re able to have their own whooping cough vaccination from 8 weeks old.

When is it best for pregnant women to get vaccinated?

The best time to get vaccinated to protect your baby is between 20 to 32 weeks of pregnancy. The vaccine is usually offered to women after their 20-week scan.

Vaccines can be given from as early as 16 weeks and women can still have the vaccine after 32 weeks but it may not be as effective because there is less time for protection from the mother to pass to their baby.

Women can also receive the vaccine after delivery, for up to 8 weeks until their baby is old enough to get their first dose. This can help protect the mother from whooping cough, reducing the chance that their baby will be exposed to the infection.

Is the vaccination safe during pregnancy?

Whooping cough vaccine has been used extensively in pregnant women in the UK since October 2012. Vaccination of pregnant women has been shown to be around 90% effective in preventing whooping cough cases and hospital admissions in young babies and over 90% effective at preventing infant deaths.

Do babies need to have the whooping cough vaccination?

The whooping cough vaccine is given as part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age with a booster offered preschool. Babies need to be vaccinated against whooping cough even if their mum had the vaccination when pregnant.

How do i get myself or my baby vaccinated against whooping cough?

If you are pregnant then you can speak to your GP or midwife about the whooping cough vaccination. You should receive an invite for the whooping cough vaccination as part of your child’s routine vaccination schedule but if you don’t please get in touch with your GP.

What to do if you think you have whooping cough

The first signs of infection are similar to a cold, such as a runny nose and sore throat, but after about a week, the infection can develop into coughing bouts that last for a few minutes and are typically worse at night.

Young babies may also make a distinctive “whoop” or have difficulty breathing after  coughing, though not all babies make this noise which means whooping cough can be hard to recognise.

If anyone in your family is diagnosed with whooping cough, it’s important they stay at home and do not go into work, school or nursery until 48 hours after starting antibiotics, or 3 weeks after symptoms start if they have not had antibiotics. This helps to prevent the spread of infection, especially to vulnerable groups, including infants.


You can find out more about the signs and symptoms of whooping cough and how to get vaccinated on the NHS website 



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