Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Vaccine
Whooping cough, also known as Pertussis is a very contagious disease which is very easily spread by personal contact.
It is caused by a bacteria known as Bordetella Pertussis which live in the mouth, nose and throat.
The disease causes long bouts of coughing and choking making it hard to breathe. The child may turn blue from lack of air, or vomit after a coughing spell. Between these coughing spells a child gasps for air causing the characteristic ‘whoop’ sound. Not all children get the ‘whoop’. A child with whooping cough can have difficulty eating, drinking or even breathing. The disease can last up to three months. Whooping cough is most serious in babies under 12 months of age, often requiring admission to hospital and may be fatal.
Younger children usually come in contact with this bacteria in the home through older children and adults.
The pertussis vaccine is given to children as part of the 6 in 1 vaccine at 2, 4 and 6 months of age with a booster vaccine given at 4-5 years of age (as part of the 4 in 1 vaccine) and again between 11-14 years of age (Tdap vaccine).
The National Immunisation Office in advice to GPs issued in September 2013 recommend vaccination for the following cohorts:
Pregnant women between 27-36 weeks gestation IN EACH PREGNANCY.
Unvaccinated women in the week after delivery (may be less effective).
Close family contacts of infants born before 32 weeks gestation as they may not have received protection via maternal immunisation. Close family should be vaccinated 2 weeks before any close contact with the newborn and should include siblings in the household and unvaccinated adults.
This vaccination is covered by the Mother and Child Scheme, when you are pregnant.