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RCOG statement on the pertussis vaccine for all pregnant women

News 28 September 2012

UPDATE 28/09/12: Click here to view the letter from the Deputy NHS Chief Executive to commissioners on the urgent delivery of the vaccination programme.

UPDATE 27/09/12: Click here to view the letter from the CMO on the temporary vaccination programme for pregnant women.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) welcomes the Department of Health’s decision to vaccinate all pregnant women in England against pertussis, commonly known as ‘whooping cough’. The health ministries in the devolved nations will have similar arrangements.

This follows a sharp increase in the number of cases especially in babies earlier this year.

Pertussis is an infectious respiratory disease characterised by intense, heavy coughing. Adults who are infected are treated with antibiotics and advised to stay away from others to prevent contagion.

Infants, because their immune systems are still developing, are at greater risk of serious complications such as pneumonia which could lead to death if they get whooping cough. For this reason, babies are routinely immunised from the age of two months.

The Department of Health’s reason for immunising all women from the 28th week of pregnancy from next week is to enable better protection for all newborns at birth.

All pregnant women will now be offered vaccination by their GPs or midwives.

RCOG President Dr Tony Falconer said, “This vaccine will ensure that pregnant women and their babies are protected against whooping cough. We would therefore strongly recommend that all pregnant women accept the vaccine when it is offered to them.

“The vaccine is safe for use during pregnancy and there are no known adverse side-effects. If women have any questions, they should speak to their GP or midwife.”


To view the press release from the Department of Health, click here.

The Department of Health haS produced the following public information materials for the NHS:

Other sources of information: