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Whooping cough vaccination in pregnancy

27 mei 2021

In recent years whooping cough has become increasingly common. Whooping cough is an infectious lung disease that is particularly dangerous in babies who have not, or not fully, been vaccinated against it. Babies can only be vaccinated once they are six weeks old. The Health Council of the Netherlands therefore recommends that pregnant women should be offered a whooping cough vaccination in the third trimester, i.e. between 28 and 32 weeks.

The antibodies the mother produces will pass through the umbilical cord to the unborn baby. This gives the baby antibodies to combat whooping cough right from birth and will protect it against the disease in the first months of life. This method provides babies with better protection until they are old enough to be fully vaccinated themselves. The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, RIVM, is currently investigating how to arrange this vaccination for pregnant women. Until the scheme is implemented nationally, pregnant women can choose to be vaccinated against whooping cough, but they will have to pay for it themselves.

Which pertussis vaccine is qualified for pregnant women?

For most adults one booster vaccination is sufficient, assuming adults have been infected with pertussis or have had a pertussis vaccine before. This is the case in the majority of adults. A booster dose consists of less antigens than the primary vaccine that is given to children who are not vaccinated before. The vaccine that protects against pertussis, also protects against the diseases diphtheria, tetanus, and polio (DKTP). There is no vaccine available that only protects against pertussis. This vaccination has to be repeated during every pregnancy.