The Ministry of Health and the Interior has confirmed that whooping cough vaccination will again be offered during the third trimester of pregnancy.
Vaccination against whooping cough during pregnancy was initially offered in 2019 during an epidemic of the infection and has since been extended several times, most recently last spring.
The programme expired at the end of last year but has now been reinstated based on a medical recommendation by the Danish Health Authority.
The vaccination, which can be received as a single-dose injection at GP clinics, is intended to protect newborn infants during their early months, until they can receive the vaccination themselves.
Denmark’s child vaccination programme includes jabs against the disease, but it is not given until the child is a few months old, with doses at 3, 5 and 12 months.
Whooping cough (kighoste in Danish) is caused by a bacteria, Bordetella pertussis. The time between infection and the onset of symptoms is around 5 to 15 days.
Both children and adults can be infected with the disease, but it is most dangerous for infants, according to the Danish infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute (SSI).
Symptoms initially resemble a cold and light cough lasting around two weeks, before more severe and dry coughing fits begin. The dry coughing can last for as long as 10 weeks.
Small children can suffer up to 30-40 coughing fits per day as a result of the disease.
The infection can be dangerous for small children due to their narrower airways, in which hardened mucus can collect and cause breathing difficulties.
Long coughing fits can also result in the child not taking in sufficient oxygen.
The new free vaccination offer will be in place until March 31st but could be further extended.
Although Denmark doesn’t routinely offer a whooping cough vaccine to pregnant women, this is the case in other countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Austria.
A large number of cases were recorded in Denmark in 2019 and 2020, with 3,691 and 2,390 respectively.
“There has not been as many recorded cases for 35-40 years, and not since the vaccination programme was introduced,” department physician at SSI Peter Henrik Andersen told news wire Ritzau in March 2022.
The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a drastic fall-off in the number of cases of whooping cough, with only 80 recorded in 2021 according to earlier statements from SSI.
Denmark usually sees an epidemic of the infection every 3-5 years.
Neither vaccination nor prior infection provides lifelong immunity from the illness, with protection gradually declining after 5-10 years.