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This respiratory condition can be deadly for infants. Getting vaccinated during your third trimester is the best way to protect yourself and your little one1.

Ever had those uncontrollable coughing fits where you feel winded and out of breath afterwards? This cough is dry and doesn’t produce mucus, can last up to 1 minute, and might cause the face to turn red or even purple2. The deep breaths that we take in after those coughing fits led it to be named the Whooping Cough3.

Whooping cough (aka the 100-day-cough, and pertussis) is actually a bacterial infection caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis that gets into our nose and throat2, and spreads very easily from person to person4. However, the Tdap vaccine can help protect both children and adults from getting it5.

To help with vaccinations, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has established the National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS)6 to provide guidance on vaccinations that pregnant mums should adopt to protect themselves against vaccine-preventable diseases7.

Medisave can be used to pay for recommended vaccinations for the specific target adult population groups under the NAIS, at up to a cap of S$500 per year8.

Why is whooping cough a concern in Singapore?

The current vaccination for whooping cough only starts for babies at 3 months of age9. So, there is a gap of protection in babies for first few months of life; around 50% of babies younger than 12 months old who have whooping cough need hospital care10, and the younger the baby, the more likely they’ll need treatment in the hospital11.

The World Health Organisation states that whooping cough is a significant cause of infant death worldwide and continues to be a public health concern even in countries with high vaccination coverage in babies12,13,14.

According to the US CDC, babies who have whooping cough may suffer from these effects15:

  • Death
  • Convulsions and fits
  • Pneumonia
  • Apnea (slowed or stopped breathing)
  • Encephalopathy (disease of the brain)

In Singapore, cases of whooping coughs in babies and toddlers have been on the rise from 2013 to 201616.

2013: 15 cases of infants and toddlers

2016: 46 cases of infants and toddlers

That’s a 300% increase in just 3 years16!

Why Should Pregnant Women Get Vaccinated?

Tdap vaccine is recommended during the third trimester of your pregnancy7,17, as you’ll be able to pass the protection against whooping coughs to your baby. There’s a transfer of antibodies from mummy to baby after the vaccination18, and this is crucial to baby’s first few months of life when they’re the most vulnerable19.

Aside from Tdap vaccine, getting a flu vaccine is also recommended for pregnant mummies20,21,22. The common flu is a lot more likely to cause complications in pregnant women than women who aren’t pregnant21.

This is due to the changes in your immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy that make you more likely to severe illness from flu that requires hospitalisation21,23.

Vaccinations may have side effects24,26 that are generally non-severe for the pregnant mummy – headaches, swelling in the vaccinated area, low grade fever (under 38 degrees), and slight nausea and diarrhoea25. Most importantly, these vaccinations aren’t found to have serious, adverse effects on your pregnancy and on baby too21,26,27.


For further information on these vaccinations, please consult your doctor.

A public awareness initiative brought to you by GlaxoSmithKline Pte Ltd.

All images used in this article are for illustrative purposes only.