As there's currently no single whooping cough-only vaccine available, you'll be given a combined vaccine that protects against 4 different diseases:
- whooping cough (pertussis)
What vaccine's used?
The Boostrix-IPV suspension for injection and Repevax suspension for injection are both routinely used in Scotland.
How effective is the vaccine?
This is a very effective way to help protect your unborn baby from whooping cough until they're old enough to have their own vaccine.
The immunity you get from the vaccine will be passed to your baby across the placenta. Getting immunised during pregnancy will help protect the baby in the first few vulnerable weeks of life until he or she is old enough to have the routine immunisation at 8 weeks of age.
Babies are offered whooping cough immunisations at 2, 3 and 4 months of age as part of their routine immunisations. They'll then be offered a fourth immunisation through the 4-in-1 vaccine at around 3 years and 4 months of age.
More information on vaccines for your baby
Will the immunisation definitely mean my baby won’t get whooping cough?
No vaccine guarantees 100% protection, but this is the most effective way to help protect your baby from whooping cough in their first weeks of life.
Evidence shows that immunising pregnant women in Scotland's very effective at reducing the number of young babies getting whooping cough. Remember that the immunity they receive from you will wear off, so make sure you bring your baby for their routine immunisations at 8 weeks of age when they'll receive their first dose of the whooping cough vaccine.
How long will my immunisation protect my baby from whooping cough?
The immunity your newborn baby gets from your vaccination will help protect them through the very early weeks of life. Your baby will still need the full course of 4 whooping cough immunisations to protect them as they grow up.
I’m expecting twins. What should I do?
One immunisation will help protect all your babies, no matter how many you're expecting.
What if I get pregnant again soon after the birth of my baby?
You'll be offered the immunisation when you reach week 16 of any pregnancy. Make an appointment to get immunised every time you're pregnant.
I have a newborn baby but wasn't immunised when pregnant. Can I have the vaccine now?
Women who miss out on the immunisation during pregnancy may be offered the vaccine if they've never previously been immunised against whooping cough, up to when their child receives their first vaccination.
I am going to breastfeed. Won’t that protect my baby?
Unfortunately, not enough protection against whooping cough's passed in the breast milk to protect your baby. Having the vaccine does increase your antibodies that are passed to your baby.
Are there any risks to me or my baby if I’m immunised while I’m pregnant?
There's no evidence that immunising pregnant women with this type of vaccine can cause any harm.
It’s much safer for you to have the vaccine than to risk your newborn catching whooping cough.
The whooping cough vaccine isn't a live vaccine so it can’t cause whooping cough in women who have the immunisation, or their babies. A recent study in the UK (of nearly 18,000 pregnant women) found no safety concerns related to getting immunised against whooping cough when pregnant. Studies from the US of immunising pregnant women against whooping cough (with a similar type of vaccine to the one used in Scotland) have also found no evidence of risk to pregnant women.
How do we know the vaccine's safe?
All medicines (including vaccines) are tested for safety and effectiveness by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The vaccine meets the high safety standards required for it to be used in the UK and other European countries. The vaccine has been given to millions of people worldwide.
Once they're in use, the safety of vaccines continues to be monitored by the MHRA.