Whooping cough (pronounced with a silent ‘w’ as in ‘hooping’), also known as pertussis, is highly contagious and can be dangerous in babies (less than 6 months) and young children (5 – 9 years old). It is a lung infection caused by a type of bacteria. In Australia, we see a wave of whooping cough outbreaks every few years.
What are symptoms of whooping cough?
After being infected by whooping cough, there may be no symptoms within the first 7 to 10 days. Symptoms may start out like a cold (blocked or runny nose) and gradually a dry cough develops (usually worse at night). The cough can have a high-pitched “whooping” sound when breathing in and it can last for weeks.
Why is the whooping cough vaccine so important in pregnancy?
The vaccine is important for preventing whooping cough infection and is the best way to protect your baby. The vaccine is completely safe in pregnant women and babies. Immunity from vaccination fades over time so it’s important to get a booster dose during pregnancy, even if you’ve already had the vaccine before.
I’m pregnant, when should I get the whooping cough vaccine?
In NSW, pregnant women can get a free vaccination in the third trimester (between 20 and 32 weeks) from their GP or hospital antenatal clinic. This is so you can pass on short-term immunity to your baby which will protect them from birth and to their first 6 weeks when they can get their own vaccination.
When should my baby get the whooping cough vaccine?
Babies will need their own whooping cough vaccination. It’s currently recommended that babies need a total of four doses vaccines: at 6 weeks, 4 months, 6 months and 18 months. Sometimes the vaccine is given in combination with other vaccines such as polio or hepatitis B. A booster is also given to 4 year olds, teenagers (in Year 7) and adults.
Who else should get the whooping cough vaccine?
Whooping cough is easily spread and caught through coughing and sneezing. You should recommend close family and carers make sure they’re vaccinated at least 2 weeks before they see your newborn.