Whooping Cough Vaccine During Pregnancy: Is It Safe for The Baby?


Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a disease caused by the bacterium ‘Bordetella pertussis’. Whooping cough is also called the hundred days’ cough in some countries, due to the prolonged period for which it takes place. This disease gets its name from a weird sounding cough, which is followed by a high-pitched gasp for air that sounds like a “whoop.” Before vaccines, approximately 157 people per 100,000 developed whooping cough worldwide. There were peaks every 2-5 years. In 93 percent of cases, they were children under the age of 10. Experts say the real incidence at that time was much higher because not all cases were reported. When mass vaccinations were introduced in the 1940s, whooping cough rates dropped to less than 1 per 100,000 by 1970. Today, it mainly affects children who are too young, as well as adolescents whose immunity has decreased. However, since 1980, numbers have increased.

Since vaccines for an integral part in the treatment and prevention of whooping cough, it is important to know which vaccine is used to treat and prevent this disease.

Read More: Vaccines You Need Before Getting Pregnant

Must Know Things about Whooping Cough Vaccine During Pregnancy

whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy

Symptoms of whooping cough

If you become infected with whooping cough, it takes about seven to ten days for signs and symptoms to appear, though it can sometimes take longer. They’re usually mild at first and are very similar to the symptoms of cold:

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Fever
  • Cough

After a week or two, things become worse. Thick mucus accumulates inside the airways, causing uncontrollable coughing. Severe and prolonged coughing attacks may:

  • Provoke vomiting
  • Result in a discoloured face, particularly red or blue.
  • Cause extreme fatigue in the body.
  • End with a high-pitched “whoop” sound during the next breath of air

However, many people don’t develop the characteristic whoop. Sometimes, a weird hacking cough is the only sign that a person has whooping cough. Infants may not cough at all. Instead, they may struggle to breathe, or they may even temporarily stop breathing.

Read More: 5 Vaccines that are Safe to Get While Breastfeeding

Causes of whooping cough

Whooping cough is caused by Bordetella pertussis, an infectious group  of bacteria. When the infected person coughs or sneezes, tiny germ-laden droplets are spread into the air and breathed into the lungs of anyone who happens to be nearby, thus spreading the disease.

Vaccine Used For Whooping Cough

The pertussis vaccine is usually available for everyone to prevent the illness; the vaccine protects against diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. As a part of the recommended immunization drive, it is given to babies and children in a series of five injections. It is important that pregnant mothers, as well as those who are in close contact with infants (newborns and babies up to 12 months of age), be vaccinated against pertussis. Whooping cough affects quite a lot of people every year.

According to various medical organizations, whooping cough is one of the leading causes of vaccine-preventable deaths globally. The majority of cases occur in poor and developing countries. Children of parents who will not let them be vaccinated are more likely to develop whooping cough compared with immunized children.

Read More: Vaccines During Pregnancy: Everything You Need to Know about


Is Whooping Cough Vaccine During Pregnancy Safe for The Baby?

Whooping cough vaccines are routinely offered to pregnant women as a way to help protect their babies against the disease until they can be vaccinated themselves at two months old. The immunity pregnant women get from the vaccine passes through the placenta to the baby, with the most effective time to get the vaccine from 28-32 weeks of pregnancy. It is understandable that some women may have concerns about receiving vaccinations during their pregnancy, but it is to be reassured that the whooping cough vaccine is safe for use during pregnancy, with no side effects for mother or baby.

The whooping cough jab, also called the pertussis-containing vaccine, has been used regularly in pregnant women since a few decades and its safety has been carefully monitored by various medical organizations. Quite a lot of vaccinated women were found free from risks to pregnancy or babies and to date, 50-60% of eligible pregnant women worldwide have received the whooping cough vaccine with no safety concerns for the mum or baby. Vaccination had reduced the risk of a newborn developing whooping cough by 91%.

So, to conclude, we have given a basic overview of whooping cough and you would be glad to know that the whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy is completely safe for your baby. However, it is always advisable to consult your doctor before undergoing any kind of treatment.

Read More: Cough Drops During Pregnancy: Are They safe?

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