Preventing whooping cough

In the UK, whooping cough is now rare due to successful vaccination against the bacterium causing it.

The 5-in-1 vaccine

The whooping cough vaccine is given as part of the 5-in-1 vaccine (DTaP/IPV/Hib), which also protects against diphtheria, tetanus, polio and Hib (haemophilus influenzae type b).

In the UK, babies are given the 5-in-1 vaccine when they are two, three and four months old. A pre-school booster vaccine (DTap/IPV) is also given before children start school (when they are between three and five years old).

The vaccine is an inactive version of the whooping cough infection. After vaccination, the body produces antibodies against the Bordetella pertussis bacterium. These antibodies provide protection against infection.

The vaccine is given in three separate jabs and a booster, so that your child’s body has time to build up an effective level of protection.

As babies and young children are mostly affected by diseases such as whooping cough, the 5-in-1 vaccine is given at a young age. The vaccine is very safe.

Side effects

The most common side effects that babies experience are:

  • pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • irritability and increased crying
  • being off colour or having a fever

Read more about side effects of the 5-in-1 vaccine.

If your child has a problem with their immune system, speak to your GP for advice about vaccination. Babies with mild coughs or colds can still have the vaccine.

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