Whooping cough (pertussis) booster vaccine

Date: July 2022, Version 2.0

Quick read

All pregnant women in the UK are advised to have a pertussis booster to help protect their baby from whooping cough after birth.

What is it?

The whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine protects against whooping cough infection.

The whooping cough vaccine recommended for pregnant women in the UK is called Boostrix IPV®.


What are the benefits of having the whooping cough vaccination during pregnancy?

When a pregnant woman is vaccinated against whooping cough, her immunity against the disease passes to the unborn baby. This means that after the baby is born, they have a lower chance of catching whooping cough and could therefore avoid the serious complications that it can cause.

It is currently recommended that all pregnant women in the UK are vaccinated with Boostrix IPV® between 16 and 32 weeks of pregnancy. Women can still be vaccinated after 32 weeks of pregnancy but vaccination at this stage of pregnancy may not offer as much protection to the baby.


Are there any risks of having the whooping cough vaccination in pregnancy?

No. The baby is fully developed by 12 weeks of pregnancy so by the time that the vaccine is given it will not lead to a structural birth defect. Information from over 200,000 pregnant women who received the whooping cough vaccine raises no concerns that vaccination causes stillbirth, preterm birth, or low infant birth weight.


Are there any alternatives to having the whooping cough vaccination in pregnancy?

No. It is recommended that all pregnant women are vaccinated, including those who have had a whooping cough infection or the vaccination in a previous pregnancy. This is to ensure that high levels of immunity can pass to the baby.

No treatment

What if I prefer not to be vaccinated against whooping cough in pregnancy?

You can decline the vaccination. However, protection against whooping cough is very important for the baby as it can cause serious breathing problems that require hospital treatment and, in rare cases, can lead to death.

Will my baby need extra monitoring?

No. The whooping cough vaccine is routinely given in pregnancy and does not mean that any extra monitoring is required.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions about the information in this leaflet, please discuss them with your health care provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from www.uktis.org.

How can I help to improve drug safety information for pregnant women in the future?

Our online reporting system (MyBump Portal) allows women who are currently pregnant to create a secure record of their pregnancy, collected through a series of questionnaires. You will be asked to enter information about your health, whether or not you take any medicines, your pregnancy outcome and your child's development. You can update your details at any time during pregnancy or afterwards. This information will help us better understand how medicines affect the health of pregnant women and their babies. Please visit the MyBump Portal to register.

General information
Sadly, miscarriage and birth defects can occur in any pregnancy.

Miscarriage occurs in about 1 in every 5 pregnancies, and 1 in every 40 babies are born with a birth defect. This is called the ‘background risk’ and happens whether medication is taken or not.

Most medicines cross the placenta and reach the baby. For many medications this is not a problem. However, some medicines can affect a baby’s growth and development.

If you take regular medication and are planning to conceive, you should discuss whether your medicine is safe to continue with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant. If you have an unplanned pregnancy while taking a medicine, you should tell your doctor as soon as possible.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please make sure that the person prescribing it knows that you are pregnant. If you have any concerns about a medicine, you can check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist.

Our Bumps information leaflets provide information about the effects of medicines in pregnancy so that you can decide, together with your healthcare provider, what is best for you and your baby.