Pertussis vaccination for pregnant women

update from 2020 - a recommendation for vaccination

*****As vaccinations are a very sensitive and private topic, this blog post is just giving neutral information. ****

One of the latest recommendations of the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) is that from 2020 on pregnant women should be vaccinated against pertussis (whooping cough) at the beginning of the last third (from 30th week) of pregnancy. (If premature birth is imminent, the vaccination can also be given earlier (from 20.SSW).)

For the first time in Germany a prenatal vaccination is recommended to protect babies!

But what is pertussis/ whooping cough?

It is a highly contagious, bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract, caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis. Typical symptoms of the disease are spasmodic, painful cough attacks. These occur intermittently and can even last for several weeks. The infection is transmitted from person to person by droplet infection.

Possible Complications for Babies

However, especially in babies under six months, the disease proceeds atypically, usually without the coughing fits. It can lead to severe complications such as respiratory arrest (apnea). Babies are therefore often treated in hospitals and have to be monitored around the clock. Due to the untypical course of the disease in early childhood, it is often not detected early.


Pertussis can be treated with antibiotics, but they must be used very early. (before the onset or in the first two weeks after the onset of coughing). However, if antibiotics are used after the beginning of the cough attacks, the course of the disease can usually no longer be positively influenced. In this case, one must then pay attention to reducing the complications and symptoms.

More Information

Data have shown that pertussis is spreading more and more and is associated with corresponding risks. In Germany alone, this amounts to 12,000 infections per year. Particularly in adults, there are often insufficient antibodies and the vaccination protection is no longer available.

With a vaccination during pregnancy, you protect child and mother simultaneously. The mother produces enough antibodies to protect her child in 90% of the cases.

The vaccination should be administered regardless of the distance to already administered pertussis vaccinations and is recommended for every pregnant woman. In Germany the Tdap combination vaccine (Covaxis®, Boostrix®) is used. Studies have shown no increased risk for the vaccination in pregnancy. The vaccine is considered safe.

The vaccination should be entered in the vaccination record book and is usually carried out by the gynaecologist. Normally, a pregnant woman is automatically prompted to take the vaccination from about the 30th week of pregnancy. It has been an integral part of prenatal care in Germany since 2020. At the gynecologist you can discuss and clarify all further questions about the vaccination.

If you want to know more about possible additional examinations during pregnancy, we recommend our blog post about this topic.


September 2020 Dr. Christine Krämer M.D.
This blog post has been prepared with the greatest possible care and does not claim to be correct, complete or up-to-date.“

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Updated: February 2021

Posted in in Pregnancy & Birth, Medicine & Psychology