Protecting your pēpi from whooping cough starts during pregnancy - NIP8711

June 2023
This resource relates to the following topics:

Information for hapū māmā about immunisation against whooping cough during pregnancy.
Printed copies can be ordered from the National Immunisation Programme Bluestar portal

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Protecting your pēpi from whooping cough starts during pregnancy.

Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is highly contagious and can cause serious harm to newborn babies. Getting your whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy protects your pēpi when they are born. It is most effective when given from 16-26 weeks of pregnancy, but is available and FREE from 13 weeks of every pregnancy.

What is whooping cough?

Whooping cough is a very contagious disease. It causes breathing difficulties and severe coughing fits. The cough can go on for weeks or months which is why it’s sometimes called the ‘100-day cough’. Whooping cough can easily spread between family members by coughing and sneezing.

How serious is it?

Whooping cough is not under control in New Zealand. Outbreaks occur every 3 years or so and, when they happen, many thousands of people get sick. Having severe whooping cough can lead to pneumonia, seizures, and other neurological (brain) issues. More than half of babies under 12 months old who catch it need to go to hospital, and up to 1 in 50 of these babies die.

How to protect your pēpi

Immunisation provides the best protection for you and your pēpi. Whooping cough is particularly dangerous for babies. For this reason, pregnant people are encouraged to be immunised from 16 weeks of pregnancy to help protect their newborn baby from this disease until they can be immunised at 6 weeks old. Whooping cough immunisation is recommended for babies as part of their FREE immunisations at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 5 months. Tamariki also get a booster at 4 years and again from 11 years old.

If you are pregnant, you can get a FREE whooping cough vaccine from a participating pharmacy, your GP, or a local community vaccination centre.

For more information about getting immunised against whooping cough: