Expectant mothers will now be offered a vaccine to help protect their babies against whooping cough when attending maternity services at London North West Healthcare NHS Trust.
Launched in February, women will now be offered the vaccine after their 20 week scan when attending antenatal clinics at Northwick Park Hospital. The service will also be on offer at Ealing and Central Middlesex hospitals from May 2017.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis affects young babies, causing long bursts of coughing and choking, making it hard to breathe. Babies under one are most at risk from whooping cough. For these babies, the disease can be very serious and can lead to pneumonia and permanent brain damage. In the worst cases, it can cause death.
The immunity women acquire from the vaccine is passed to the baby through the placenta. This helps protect the baby in the first few weeks of life until they are old enough to have their first vaccines at two months of age. Babies are offered a whooping cough vaccination at two, three and four months of age as part of their routine immunisations.
A national programme has been in place since 2012 and has been highly effective. London North West Healthcare NHS Trust is one of the first Trusts in London to offer the vaccine and since launching earlier this year more than 200 women have accepted the vaccine.
Dana Loney, Lead Midwife for Public Health at London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “While no vaccination guarantees 100% protection, published studies have shown that the vaccine is over 90% effective in protecting your baby from whooping cough until his or her vaccinations start at two months of age.
“Expectant mothers can help protect their unborn baby against whooping cough by having the vaccination while pregnant. You should have the vaccination even if you’ve been vaccinated before or have had whooping cough yourself.
“If women require further information they should speak to their midwife or GP.”
Whooping cough and pregnancy: What you need to know
- Whooping cough is a serious disease in babies in whom it can lead to complications resulting in hospitalisation and even death
- Expectant mothers can protect their babies from birth by having the whooping cough vaccination whilst pregnant
- The best time to get vaccinated is between weeks 20 and 32 of your pregnancy
- You may be offered the whooping cough vaccine after your 20 week scan. If you have not been offered it, please ask your midwife or your GP
- The number of babies infected with whooping cough has fallen since vaccination in pregnancy was introduced
- But pregnant mothers still need to get vaccinated because the disease remains at high levels in older children and adults
- Remember, you can still have your whooping cough vaccination up to your time of delivery, but it may be less effective after 38 weeks
- In a recent UK study of nearly 18,000 vaccinated pregnant women there was no increased risk to their pregnancies or babies from vaccination
For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/vaccinations