Is the whooping cough vaccine safe?

Getting the whooping cough vaccination is safe and will protect your baby from infection in their first few weeks of life.

Why do I need the whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy?

Whooping cough is a serious infection that causes coughing and choking, making it hard to breathe. Babies that are too young to be vaccinated are at risk of getting whooping cough and this can be very serious. Most will have to be hospitalised and some, sadly, may die.

Getting this vaccination while you're pregnant will help protect your baby from developing whooping cough in the first few weeks of their life. The immunity you get from the vaccine passes through the placenta to your unborn baby. This will protect them until they are vaccinated at two months old.

Babies born to vaccinated mothers are 91% less likely to get whooping cough than babies whose mothers are not vaccinated.

When will I get the whooping cough vaccine?

You will be offered a whooping cough vaccination by your midwife or doctor. The best time to get vaccinated to protect your baby is from week 16 up to 32 weeks of pregnancy. If you miss it for any reason, you can still have it up until you go into labour. This isn’t ideal because the vaccination may not directly protect your baby. But it will protect you from whooping cough and from passing it on to your baby.

Is the vaccination safe?

It’s understandable to worry about these things, but there is no evidence that the whooping cough vaccine is unsafe for you or your unborn baby. The whooping cough vaccine has been used in the UK since 2012 and there have been no safety concerns reported for mothers or their babies.

A large study of around 20,000 vaccinated women found no evidence of an increased risk of stillbirth, low birth weight, pre-eclampsia or any other pregnancy complications.

Will the vaccine give me whooping cough?

No. The whooping cough vaccine is not a 'live' vaccine. This means it doesn't contain whooping cough.

Will my baby still need to be vaccinated at two months if I've had the vaccine while pregnant?

Yes. Your baby will still need to be vaccinated according to the normal NHS vaccination schedule when they reach two months old.

You can talk to your doctor or midwife if you have any more questions about the whooping cough vaccine.

Find out more about vaccinations in pregnancy.

NHS Choices. Whooping cough vaccination in pregnancy (Page last reviewed: 22/09/2016 Next review due: 22/09/2019)

Review dates
Reviewed: 05 December 2018
Next review: 05 December 2021

This content is currently being reviewed by our team. Updated information will be coming soon.