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Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

L'înformâtion et les sèrvices publyis pouor I'Île dé Jèrri

Whooping cough vaccine for pregnant women

Protecting your baby from whooping cough

The only way to protect your baby from whooping cough is by having the pertussis vaccine during pregnancy. 

Although most women will have been vaccinated or exposed to natural whooping cough in childhood, if they are given pertussis containing vaccine from week 16 of pregnancy, the vaccine will temporarily boost antibody levels.

This enables the mother to transfer a high level of pertussis antibodies across the placenta to her unborn child which should passively protect her infant against pertussis until he or she is due the first dose of primary immunisations at 8 weeks of age.

Recent deaths in babies in the UK, where mothers have not received the vaccine, highlights the importance that pregnant women get vaccinated. The disease is especially severe in newborn babies who are most at risk in their first few weeks, when they're too young to start their own vaccinations.

You will need a vaccine in each new pregnancy.​​

When to get the vaccine

The vaccine can be given between weeks 16 and 32 of pregnancy. 

You may still be immunised after week 32 of pregnancy until delivery. However, this may not offer as high a level of passive protection to the baby, particularly if they are born pre-term.

The vaccine is highly effective, and evidence tells us it's safe for you and your baby when given in pregnancy.

Whooping cough vaccination in pregnancy on NHS website​

Where to get your vaccine 

The vaccine will be given in your GP surgery. 

The vaccine is free however your GP may charge for the consultation, or it may be included as part of your pregnancy package.

​​​​What is whooping cough?​

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a bacterial infection of the lungs and airways. It causes long bouts of coughing and choking, making it hard to breathe. It's sometimes called the ‘100 day cough’ as it lasts for around 2 or 3 months​.

In adolescents and adults, whooping cough often appears to be just a troublesome cough but in babies, it can be extremely serious. Young babies with whooping cough are often very unwell and most are admitted to hospital.​ It can cause life-threatening complications and when it's particularly severe, they can die.​

It's highly contagious and is spread by coughs, sneezes and close contact. Many babies who get whooping cough have caught it from a family member. 

You can find out more about whooping cough on NHS website​.

​Vaccinating your baby from 2 months​

Your baby is old enough to start having their own vaccinations when they're 8 weeks old.  

To make sure your baby is fully protected from whooping cough, they'll be given 3 vaccine doses at age 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks. 

After they're vaccinated, full protection should take​ effect by the time they're 5 months old​. By getting vaccinated when you'​re pregnant, you'll protect your baby against whooping cough during the period between birth and 5 months of age.  ​​

More information about the childhood immunisation schedule is available on the baby / child immunisations page.

Baby / child immunisations

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