Vaccines - Whooping cough in babies and children

Vaccines are the best way to protect your child and family from whooping cough.

We recommend vaccination for all:

  • babies and children
  • secondary school children
  • pregnant women

Talk with your child’s GP or your GP nurse if you have questions about whooping cough vaccines.

It is really important that your child gets their vaccines on time, to protect them from whooping cough and its complications.

You probably had a vaccine against whooping cough when you were pregnant. This helps protect your baby in their first 6 months when they're most vulnerable.

If you did not get the vaccine while pregnant and your baby is less than 6 weeks old, ask your GP about getting vaccinated urgently.

Your baby will also need the 6 in 1 vaccine, which includes the vaccine against whooping cough. They'll get this in 3 doses between 2 and 6 months old. Your child is not fully vaccinated until they get all 3 doses.

These vaccines help to protect your child for about 10 years.

They'll need to be vaccinated again:

Whooping cough vaccine side effects

Side effects are usually mild.

They may include:

  • soreness or redness around the area where the injection was given
  • mild fever and tiredness for up to 48 hours

Give your child liquid paracetamol if they have a high temperature after getting the vaccine.

If you are pregnant and cannot get the whooping cough vaccine, or your baby is born early (before 32 weeks):

  • make sure all other children and adults in the house are vaccinated
  • ask relatives and friends not to visit if they have a cough

Protect your premature baby from whooping cough

Your baby will not be protected by the whooping cough vaccine you had during pregnancy if they're born before 32 weeks. This is because they did not get enough antibodies from you while in the womb.

You can help to protect your baby by making sure anyone in contact with them is vaccinated.

Keep your baby away from anyone with symptoms of infection such as a:

  • cough
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • high temperature

Do not allow strangers to kiss your baby.

Page last reviewed: 23 January 2023
Next review due: 23 January 2026