Whooping cough (pertussis) is a respiratory infection that develops into severe coughing fits. This illness can be very severe, especially in very young babies. The number of cases of whooping cough in the UK has risen among babies who are too young to have had their vaccinations.
Because of this, the Department of Health developed a vaccine for pregnant women to protect their babies against this illness until they are old enough to have their first vaccinations.
You will be offered the whooping cough vaccine by your GP or midwife from week 20 of your pregnancy, or soon after your 20 week scan.
It's recommended that you have the vaccination between weeks 16 and 32 of pregnancy, to maximise the chance that your baby will be protected from birth. You may still be immunised after week 32 of your pregnancy but this may not offer as high a level of protection to your baby.
You will be offered this vaccination to boost your antibodies. These antibodies will be passed to your baby through the placenta.
Comprehensive research into the vaccine has shown that it's very safe, with no ill-effects for pregnant women or their babies.
If you’re pregnant in winter, you will be offered a flu vaccine. There is evidence that pregnant women can be more at risk of developing complications if you get flu during pregnancy. To cut this risk for you and your baby’s health, women are offered a free flu jab, usually sometime between September and February.
Research shows that the flu vaccine is safe from the first few weeks of pregnancy right up to your due date.
The Department of Health has developed a vaccine for pregnant women to protect their babies against this illness until the babies can be immunised themselves.
1. RCOG statement: Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination now offered from 20 weeks of pregnancy
ℹLast reviewed on April 1st, 2015. Next review date April 1st, 2018.