Denmark to keep whooping cough vaccine for pregnant women

Ritzau/The Local
Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Denmark to keep whooping cough vaccine for pregnant women
Denmark wants to offer a whooping cough vaccine to all pregnant women. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark’s health minister Sophie Løhde said on Monday that a temporary arrangement offering pregnant women a free vaccine against whooping cough should be made permanent.


Vaccination against whooping cough during pregnancy was initially offered in 2019 during an epidemic of the infection and was extended several times, most recently in January, but expired at the end of March.

But the government now wants to make the vaccination scheme permanent, Løhde said.

“Whooping cough can be life threatening for newborns and infants who are a few months old or have not yet been vaccinated.

“That’s why it’s important that vaccination is offered to pregnant women so they can choose to protect their newborn child as well as possible against whooping cough,” the minister said in a press statement.


The government announcement comes after a recommendation was made by the Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen).

“We are currently seeing an increase in whooping cough cases even though the total number is still relatively low.

“That’s why we think it is sensible to have a permanent vaccination programme so as many pregnant women as possible are already vaccinated when a new epidemic comes at some time in the future,” Kirstine Moll Harboe of the Health Authority said.

The government is looking at ways to finance and introduce a permanent vaccine programme by the end of the summer.

The vaccination, which has been offered 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.



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