Having the whooping cough vaccination while you are pregnant is the best way to protect your baby from the moment they are born.
The whooping cough vaccine used to be given to pregnant women at 28 weeks. However, the recently updated guidelines recommend it be given between 20 and 32 weeks.
If you are at risk of having your baby early, you can have the whooping cough vaccine at 20 weeks. This allows time for your body to produce the antibodies that are passed on to your unborn baby.
Newborn babies cannot be vaccinated for whooping cough until they are 2 months old, so vaccination during pregnancy is an important step in protecting your baby from day one.
Whooping cough is caused by a highly infectious bacteria and affects the lungs and airways. In young babies with very soft airways, the severe episodes of coughing can cause a lot of damage. In some cases, whooping cough in newborns can be fatal.
“Whooping cough is very severe and can be life threatening in babies and young children, but thankfully we can prevent this through vaccination,” says South Australia Health’s Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nicola Spurrier.
It’s also important for mums to know that they need to get the whooping cough vaccination for each of their pregnancies, even if they are close together.
Apart from mum, anyone who will be come into contact with your newborn should get the whooping cough vaccine before your little one arrives.
Partners, grandparents and any other friends or relatives should see their doctor about getting the vaccination. Unless they are eligible under the National Immunisation Program, there will probably be a cost involved. Your doctor can provide you with more information.