Whooping cough (pertussis): immunisation of healthcare workers

Information on the immunisation of health professionals and advice for healthcare workers exposed to whooping cough.

Whooping cough immunisation of health professionals

Immunisation of health professionals was considered by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) as part of a range of control options during the 2012 whooping cough outbreak. The committee agreed that the first priority was to optimise protection in children too young to be vaccinated by offering a pertussis containing booster to pregnant women (originally between 28 to 38 weeks) as an outbreak response measure. In June 2014 JCVI recommended that the programme should continue for a further 5 years and from 1 April 2016 the recommended gestational age for vaccination was revised to between 20 and 32 weeks but can be given as early as 16 weeks.

Healthcare workers can be an important source of infection to vulnerable infants and in October 2016 JCVI advised that healthcare workers with direct contact with vulnerable patients (pregnant women or infants) are priority groups for immunisation.

However, due to a global shortage of pertussis vaccine, it has not been possible to implement the JCVI advice to date. Supplies of vaccine are now improving and, from July 2019, pertussis vaccine will become available to order by NHS Occupational Health Departments for recommended staff groups.

In July 2019 guidance relating to the occupational vaccination of healthcare workers was published providing information on the recommended groups for vaccination and vaccine supply.

Information for healthcare workers exposed to whooping cough

Information for healthcare workers exposed to whooping cough (pertussis)

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Exposure in a healthcare setting

The PHE Guidelines for the Public Health Management of Pertussis Incidents in Healthcare Settings has been revised in line with the national guidelines.

Published 11 February 2013
Last updated 22 July 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated advice on the pertussis immunisation of healthcare workers.

  2. First published.