cough causes serious long bursts of continuous coughing and choking, which
makes it difficult to breathe. This
sometimes causes a ‘whoop’ noise where there is an attempt to gasp for breath
in adults and children may include:
In new born (and very young) babies, the cough may not be
particularly noticeable but there may be brief periods where they stop
coughing bouts will start to become less severe and less frequent over
time. The infection usually lasts for
around 2-3 months and the severity of the infection is different from person to
person; it is usually serious.
cough can affect people of any age if they are to come in close contact with
someone else who has the whooping cough infection. People are contagious from about 6 days after
being infected (usually as cold-like symptoms are starting) until around 3
weeks after the coughing bouts start.
at risk of catching whooping cough:
groups are more vulnerable to infection in particular new born babies.
of any age can catch whooping cough but is most dangerous for new born
babies. This is because babies have
poorly developed immune systems and it is harder for them to fight off
cough can cause:
In 2012 there was a big increase in the number of people catching whooping cough;
400 babies were affected and of these, 12 babies died. Since 2012 around 300 babies every year are
admitted to hospital for care because of whooping cough. The number of babies dying from whooping
cough is increasing. It is known that
the babies that do safely die from whooping cough are often those that are
infected before they were old enough to receive their own vaccination. This is why the vaccination during pregnancy is
prevent further deaths and serious harm to babies, since 2012 it has been
recommended that all pregnant women are offered the whooping cough vaccine.
To read a patient story please click here.
whooping cough vaccine is an injection given to pregnant women to protect their
new-born babies from the disease, as well as themselves. It is a 4 in 1 vaccine, providing protection
against diphtheria, tetanus and polio in addition to whooping cough. A single dose whooping cough vaccine does not
is not a live vaccine, it has been inactivated (killed) and therefore you cannot
catch whooping cough or any of the other diseases from having the vaccine.
the two weeks after receiving a whooping cough vaccination, your body begins
creating antibodies that protect you against infection should you come in
contact with someone carrying the disease.
These antibodies also pass through the placenta to your baby who will
remain protected until they receive their whooping cough vaccine at around 8
weeks of age.
still need to have a whooping cough vaccine even if you received one yourself
as a child or if you have already had one as an adult in a previous pregnancy
because protection only lasts for a limited time.
whooping cough vaccine is safe to have from 16 weeks in pregnancy. It is available all year round and it is
recommended that pregnant women have the vaccine before 32 weeks to ensure
maximum protection to their babies.
may be able to have this vaccination at the same time as your 20 week scan if
your maternity unit is providing this service.
Please speak with your midwife to see what services are available to
be effective and to provide each baby with the same level of protection, it is
recommended that you have a whooping cough vaccine in each pregnancy. This is because antibodies do not stay at
high levels in the blood for very long.
both directly and indirectly.
show that the whooping cough vaccine is around 92% effective at preventing the
disease in new-born babies if given between 16-32 weeks. This means that if 100 babies from vaccinated
mothers were exposed to the whooping cough vaccine, only 8 of these babies
would be likely catch the illness. The numbers of deaths due to whooping cough
in young babies has dropped significantly since the introduction of the
maternal vaccine in 2012.
vaccinated against whooping cough also means that as a mother you are less
likely to catch it yourself and therefore are less likely to pass it on to your
baby once they are born.
Since being routinely introduced in 2012, data
from 20,000 women who have received the vaccine during pregnancy show that
there is no evidence of an increase in the risk of congenital abnormalities or
Healthcare professionals recommend vaccinations
based on evidence that shows a strong benefit to very little or no known risk.
is good, strong evidence that the vaccine works extremely well. Studies show that babies born to vaccinated
mothers are highly protected. The
vaccine is around 92% effective – meaning out of 100 babies born to vaccinated
mothers, only 8 babies would catch pertussis if exposed to the bacteria.
ensure your child continues to receive protection against whooping cough it is
recommended that you take your child along to start their childhood
vaccinations and ensure they complete the whole vaccine programme. These will start at around 8 weeks of age.
contact with anyone you suspect may have whooping cough while you are pregnant
and also once the baby is born.