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Whooping cough (pertussis) vaccination

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Whooping cough (also called pertussis) is an infection that affects the lungs and airways. Whooping cough is very infectious, which means it passes easily from one person to another. 

It causes long bursts of coughing and choking, which make it hard to breathe. The ‘whoop’ noise is caused by gasping for breath after each period of coughing. Young babies don’t always do this, which can make it difficult to recognise the disease. Symptoms of whooping cough can last for two to three months. It is easily spread by breathing in tiny droplets that are released into the air when people with the disease cough and sneeze. 

Whooping cough can affect people of all ages. It can be very serious and lead to severe lung problems (pneumonia) and permanent brain damage. Babies under the age of one are at the greatest risk of serious illness and are at risk of dying from the disease.   

The whooping cough vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting pregnant women, unborn babies, infants and children from this infection. 

You can find more information about the vaccine and the disease it protects against at  NHS 111 Wales - Vaccinations (external site)

Eligibility for a vaccine 


The whooping cough vaccine is offered to all pregnant women from 16 weeks of pregnancy.  

The protection from the vaccine passes to the unborn baby through the placenta, protecting them from whooping cough during the first few weeks of their life until they have their first routine immunisation when they are eight weeks old. The vaccine also protects pregnant women from getting whooping cough and lowers the risk of them passing it on to their baby. 

If you have the vaccine close to the time your baby is born, it may be less effective. So, get your vaccine as soon as possible, after you become eligible at 16 weeks pregnant. 

You can find more information about the whooping cough vaccination during pregnancy on the following page. 

Pregnancy: Whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine in pregnancy 

Babies and children

The whooping cough vaccination is offered to all babies and young children as part of the NHS routine childhood immunisation schedule

Even if you had the whooping cough vaccine when pregnant, your baby will still need to be vaccinated against whooping cough.  

Babies are offered the vaccine against whooping cough at eight, 12 and 16 weeks of age. Preschool children are then offered a fourth whooping cough vaccine at three years and four months. 

The routine immunisation schedules for Wales provides information about routine and non-routine vaccinations. 

Healthcare workers

Healthcare workers can easily pass infections on to babies. Healthcare workers who have direct contact with pregnant women or babies, and those who have not had a whooping cough vaccine in the last five years, are eligible for a vaccine as part of their occupational health care.   

About the vaccine

There is no vaccine that only protects against whooping cough. Instead, the vaccines offered are combination vaccines that protect against different diseases, including whooping cough. 

The vaccines are not live and cannot cause whooping cough. 

You can find more information about the whooping cough vaccination on the following pages. 

Babies: 6-in-1 vaccine 

Children and adults: 4-in-1 vaccine 

Pregnancy: Whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine in pregnancy 

Information for the public

Signs and symptoms of whooping cough in your baby

If you would like to learn more about the vaccine or the diseases it protects against, a number of information resources are available to help.  

You can also call NHS 111 or your GP practice for advice if you have any questions. 




Further information 

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists information for the public (external site)

NHS 111 Wales - Vaccinations (external site)