Whooping cough vaccination during pregnancy can protect your newborn from day one.
Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a highly infectious bacterial disease that causes severe bouts of coughing. In adults, the symptoms can be mild, but if the infection is spread to a baby who is not yet vaccinated, it can be life threatening.
Studies have found that whooping cough vaccination during pregnancy is safe and effective for both the mother and baby.
The whooping cough vaccine is usually given to pregnant women at 28 weeks (can be given anytime between 20-32 weeks) of each pregnancy and should be given as early as possible (from 20 weeks) to women who have been identified as being at high risk of early delivery. Vaccination during pregnancy (preferably at 20-32 weeks) means your body produces antibodies that get passed on to your baby before birth. These antibodies will protect your baby until they are ready to receive their own vaccinations at 6 weeks of age.
On this page
- Is the vaccination safe?
- I am pregnant, what do I need to do?
- More information
- Information for health professionals
Is the vaccination safe?
Yes, the vaccine is safe for both the pregnant woman and baby when given during pregnancy. Studies from the US and UK involving more than 40,000 pregnant women found only mild side effects such as pain or redness in the arm where the vaccination was given. It doesn’t increase the risk of serious pregnancy complications such as prematurity and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has recently updated recommendations for pregnant women to be vaccinated between 20 and 32 weeks of each pregnancy.
I am pregnant, what do I need to do?
Talk to your doctor today about getting free whooping cough vaccine. This is usually given to pregnant women at 28 weeks (can be given anytime between 20-32 weeks) of each pregnancy and should be given as early as possible (from 20 weeks) to women who have been identified as being at high risk of early delivery.
The immunity you get from the whooping cough vaccine fades over time so you need to be vaccinated during each pregnancy.
It is also important that those who will be closest to your baby in the first weeks of life also receive a whooping cough vaccine. Make sure your other children are up to date with their vaccines and ask carers and close family members who have not had a whooping cough vaccine in the past 10 years to make sure that they are vaccinated at least two weeks before they have any contact with your baby. On time vaccination is your child’s best protection against serious diseases, the ‘Save The Date To Vaccinate’ app can help you ensure that your child’s vaccinations are given on time. Visit the ‘Save The Date To Vaccinate’ website to download the app and create your family’s recommended immunisation schedules.
The free whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy is the best way to protect your newborn from day one. Talk to your doctor today about vaccinations.
If you are planning a pregnancy or already pregnant, talk to your GP, Aboriginal Medical Service or other provider about what vaccines you need while you are pregnant.
You can also protect yourself and your baby from the dangerous effects of the flu during pregnancy by asking your doctor for the flu vaccine which can be given at any stage during your pregnancy.
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Information for health professionals
Free pertussis vaccine is available for all pregnant women. This is usually given to pregnant women at 28 weeks (can be given anytime between 20-32 weeks) of each pregnancy. Women at high risk of preterm delivery or unlikely to return at 28 weeks should be offered vaccination at 20 weeks. Women not vaccinated before 32 weeks should still receive vaccination as soon as possible, at any time up until birth or immediately after.
Antenatal pertussis vaccination protects newborns before they are able to have their own vaccinations from 6 weeks of age. Studies show that it is more than 90 per cent effective in preventing pertussis in infants.
Two pertussis vaccines are provided free under the National Immunisation Program: Adacel and Boostrix. Both vaccines are suitable to be administered in pregnancy.
Antenatal Pertussis Vaccination Program Guidelines and Staff Decision Aid