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Protect your baby with the whooping cough vaccine

whooping cough

Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) causes long bursts of coughing and choking, making it hard to breathe.

The 'whoop' noise is caused by gasping for breath after each burst of coughing.

Young babies don't always do this which can make it diffcult to recognise the disease. Whooping cough commonly lasts for 2 to 3 months.

Babies under one year of age are most at risk from whooping cough. For these babies, the disease is very serious and can lead to pneumonia and permanent brain damage. In the worst cases, it can cause death.

Expectant mothers can help protect their babies by getting themselves vaccinated against whooping cough from 16 weeks.

The vaccine is sometimes offered after the mid-pregnancy scan around 18 to 20 weeks.  If you have not been offered it, please ask your midwife or your GP practice.

The vaccination programme was introduced in 2012 and has already protected many young babies against whooping cough.

Because the disease continues to circulate at high levels in older age groups, pregnant women still need to be vaccinated.

It is important to be vaccinated with every pregnancy.

You may have thought whooping cough had died out but the number of cases in England and Wales started to increase from late 2011.

In 2012 there were 10 times as many cases as would be expected in a peak year of disease.

This programme has been in place since 2012 and is highly effective at protecting babies until they can have their frst vaccine at 2 months of age. However, whooping cough levels are still high in older age groups, so it's important that babies continue to be protected.

For more information on the NHS vaccination schedule, please visit the NHS website.

'I have to compliment everyone on their pleasant persona and their expertise and knowledge. By the end of the 5 days, I did not feel as though I had been in a hospital ward and was very relaxed.'

Patient, Ward 16 Orthopaedics, University Hospital of North Durham