Whooping cough is a bacterial infection of the respiratory tract that causes coughing, that in infants can come with a characteristic “whoop” as they breath in, a well as fever, sore throat and increased production of mucus. This vaccine is for pregnant women who want to protect their children against whooping cough in the first few months before the child can get vaccinated themselves.
About the whooping cough vaccine
- Who can get vaccinated? Pregnant women above the age of 18.
- When to get vaccinated: Between 16 – 38 weeks pregnant.
- How it is given? An injection in the upper arm.
- Side effects: Serious side effects from the whooping cough vaccine are rare. Common side effects include redness and swelling at the site of injection, headache, and mild muscle pain.
|Doses per course||1|
|Price per course||£85|
What is whooping cough?
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a bacterial infection of the respiratory tract (mouth, nose, throat, and lungs). The majority of cases are caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis, which is what the whooping cough vaccine protects against. A small proportion of cases of whooping cough are due to the bacteria Bordetella parapertussis which is currently not prevented by existing vaccines.
Who is this service for?
The whooping cough vaccine is for pregnant women, to protect the infant from whooping cough from birth until when they receive their own whooping cough vaccine via the National Immunisation Schedule.
This service can also be considered for mothers with infants less than 2 months of age who did not receive the whooping cough vaccine during their pregnancy.
This vaccination can also be provided by the NHS for free. Check with your GP to see if you are eligible for this vaccination.
What are the symptoms of whooping cough?
The first symptoms of whooping cough include increased production of mucus in the throat and nose, red watery eyes, a slight fever, and a sore throat. Later an irritating cough may develop, which can become more intense and painful as time goes on. Each coughing episode can last a few minutes.
In young infants the coughing spasms are sometimes followed by a gasp for air with a “whoop” sound which can be characteristic of this infection. The coughing can be followed by temporary breathing difficulties or vomiting. The infection can last for two to three months.
In older patients, it tends to be less severe and the infection can present as a persistent cough without these characteristics so is harder to recognise as whooping cough infection.
Is whooping cough contagious?
Whooping cough is very contagious, and usually spreads from person to person when infected water droplets are expelled by coughing and sneezing, or being in close contact for an extended period of time. Those infected with whooping cough are at their most contagious for up to two weeks after they start coughing.
Most babies who get whooping cough are infected by siblings, parents, or caregivers who may not know that they are infected.
What are the side effects of the whooping cough vaccine?
Very common side effects (1 in 10) of the whooping cough vaccine include:
- Redness, swelling, or pain at the injection site
- Joint swelling or pain
- Lack of energy
Common (1 in 100) side effects of the whooping cough vaccine include:
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal pain, diarrhoea, or vomiting
- Itchiness and hardness around the site of injection