Whooping cough is spread easily by coughing, and babies are at risk of severe illness if infected. Older children and adults can often get whooping cough too and they can pass the infection on to babies.
Anyone with symptoms of whooping cough should see their doctor early for diagnosis and treatment. It's especially important to see a doctor early if your baby is unwell.
Your GP can provide more information about whooping cough and vaccination.
Protect your baby
Get vaccinated during each pregnancy and vaccinate your baby on time. Your baby will have the best protection after they have received all 3 doses please see immunisation for further details.
Protect older children
Older siblings can catch whooping cough at school and pass it on at home. Everyone in your household should be up to date with their whooping cough vaccines. This means that they will be less likely to get whooping cough and bring it home to the baby. Older children need a booster dose, see immunisation for further details. Another whooping cough booster is given in high school.
Parents and carers are sometimes the source of whooping cough and pass it on at home. Please see immunisation for further details.
Free vaccine is provided through GPs and hospital antenatal clinics for pregnant women during each pregnancy:
- the whooping cough vaccine is usually given to pregnant women at 28 weeks of each pregnancy, but can be given at any time between 20 and 32 weeks
- for women identified as being at high risk of early delivery, the vaccine should be given as early as possible (from 20 weeks)
- if not received during pregnancy, the vaccine should be administered as soon as possible after birth
Fathers and other adults who are anticipated to care regularly for young babies should talk to their GP about the benefits of getting an adult whooping cough vaccine. Since very young babies are at greatest risk, and the vaccine takes several days to take effect, adults should be vaccinated prior to the birth or as early as possible after the birth.
Keep your baby away from anyone with a cough
If you or your child has been diagnosed with whooping cough - stay away from work, school or childcare until your doctor tells you it's safe to return (normally after 5 days of antibiotics). This means that there is less chance of passing the infection on to other people.