Can my child go to school with whooping cough? Concerns over rise in cases

Five babies in England have died after being diagnosed with whooping cough <i>(Image: Getty)</i>
Five babies in England have died after being diagnosed with whooping cough (Image: Getty)

Whooping cough is sometimes known as the 100-day cough because of how long it takes to recover from it.

More than 2,700 whooping cough cases have been reported across England so far in 2024 – more than three times the number recorded in the whole of last year.

Five babies in England have died after being diagnosed with whooping cough, as cases continue to rise.

But what is the advice for parents if they think their child has it?

Can my child go to school with whooping cough?

No.

Vaccination is crucial, as whooping cough can spread very easily through coughing and sneezing.

Figures for England show 59.3% of pregnant women between October to December 2023 were vaccinated against whooping cough, almost 16% down on the same quarter in 2016/17.

The vaccine in pregnancy helps bridge the immunity gap from when babies are born until they themselves can be vaccinated.

If your child does catch it, they'll need to stay off school or nursery for 48 hours after starting antibiotics, or 3 weeks from the start of their symptoms if they haven't had the treatment.

Parents can help protect their children by ensuring they receive their vaccines at the right time or catching up as soon as possible if they have missed any.

If you are not sure if your child has had all their routine vaccinations, check their health record (Red Book) or contact your GP practice.


Recommended reading:

Whooping cough symptoms as five babies die and cases soar

What is whooping cough and why are cases so high?

More babies could die from whooping cough, expert warns


What are the symptoms of whooping cough?

According to the UK Health Security Agency: "The first symptoms of whooping cough are similar to a common cold, with a runny nose and a mild fever. After about a week or two, the characteristic cough develops with uncontrolled bouts of intense coughing that can last for several minutes, sometimes causing vomiting.

"Coughing is often worse overnight. Coughing fits can cause some people to make a distinctive "whooping" sound as they gasp for breath between coughs.

"Babies under 3 months old who are not fully protected through immunisation are at the highest risk of developing severe complications including pauses in breathing (apnoea), dehydration, pneumonia, or seizures."