From 16 December 2019, pregnant women in the Netherlands will be offered the 22-week vaccination. With this vaccination, a pregnant woman protects her child and herself against whooping cough. The 22-week vaccination (maternal whooping cough vaccination) is free of charge and is offered by the National Immunisation Programme. The State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport, Mr Blokhuis, decided to do this in 2018. Pregnant women should make an appointment to receive the vaccination at a Youth Health Care Centre (JGZ).

22-week vaccination

The vaccination is given from week 22 of pregnancy. The mother then produces antibodies against whooping cough. These antibodies come to the child via the umbilical cord. Therefore, the child is immediately protected from whooping cough after birth until it receives its first vaccinations. Because there is no separate whooping cough vaccine, a combination vaccine (DPT shot) is used. It not only protects against whooping cough but also against tetanus and diphtheria.

Whooping cough

Since the 1990s, whooping cough is common in the Netherlands. Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a respiratory tract infection and causes violent coughing. Whooping cough occurs at all ages but is dangerous for young babies. Babies only get their first vaccination when they are two months old. That means that they are not yet protected in the first few months precisely when they are most vulnerable. Every year, some 170 babies come to the hospital with serious complaints and one baby dies of whooping cough. 

Information and referral

From 2 December, the midwives started informing pregnant women about the 22-week vaccination. They will then receive an invitation letter and a brochure. Via the website, women can make an appointment at a JGZ-organisation in their neighbourhood. There they will receive more information about the vaccination and can ask questions about the vaccination programme for their child and will they be given the vaccination.

A child gets one less vaccination

With the introduction of the 22-week vaccination, the vaccination schedule for most children will change. They receive one less vaccination and start their vaccinations a month later. The first vaccination will be at three months instead of two months. The exceptions to this change will be discussed by the doctor or nurse at the Youth Health Care Centre with the pregnant woman.

Research into safety

The vaccine is safe for mother and child. In recent years, much research has been done at home and abroad into the effectiveness and consequences of a whooping cough vaccination during pregnancy. All these studies showed that there is no increased risk of, for example, miscarriage or premature birth between women who have not been vaccinated and women who have been vaccinated. They also revealed that vaccination during pregnancy works very well. The maternal whooping cough vaccination has been introduced years earlier in England, Spain, the United States and Australia, among others.

More information is available in this brochure