The government has approved the administration of the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccination to pregnant mothers, which will begin at year end, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said.

He added that the vaccinations were aimed at protecting newborn babies from pertussis or whooping cough.

“The vaccinations are given free of charge under the National Immunisation Programme (NIP),” he told the media after the 2024 National Immunisation Day celebrations and the National Immunisation Summit here today.

Meanwhile, Immunise4life programme technical committee chairman Prof Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail said the D-TaP vaccinations for pregnant mothers would protect the babies they were carrying from whooping cough as most patients were unvaccinated or did not get vaccinated in time.

“We want the child to be immunised before they are three months, so they will receive immunisation from their mothers,” he said, adding that one dose of D-TaP vaccination would be given to pregnant mothers in their third trimester or between 27 to 32 weeks of pregnancy.

“The vaccination is for each pregnancy, so if the mother is pregnant every year, she will be vaccinated every year,” he said.

Whooping cough is caused by the Bordetella Pertussis bacteria, which infects the mouth, nose and throat and spreads through the air when the patient sneezes or coughs.

Its symptoms include prolonged cough for one or two weeks, which often drags to two months.

In other developments, Dzulkefly said that besides the D-TAP vaccine, the government is considering including influenza vaccine in the NIP programme specifically for the elderly.

“We are considering it as we know the elderly are exposed to the risk of infection. I hope that maybe next year in the 2025 Budget or further, we will request to include it in NIP specially for the elderly,” he said.