warning: How The Herald has reported on the outbreak.
There have been more than 1000 cases of whooping cough confirmed in Scotland since the start of 2012, compared to 61 for the same period last year.
Other parts of the UK have also seen a surge in cases and nine infants under the age of three months have died in England and one in Northern Ireland.
Babies are at greatest risk from the complications of whooping cough because they have small lungs. However, they cannot be vaccinated against the bacteria until they are two months old and need three injections for full protection.
It is hoped mothers will pass on short-term immunity to whooping cough if they are vaccinated 28 to 38 weeks into their pregnancy.
Sir Harry Burns, chief medical officer for Scotland, said: "Although no infants in Scotland have died as a result of whooping cough this year, there have been 65 cases of the disease in children under three months old.
"All children are already offered vaccination against the infection when they are eight weeks old, and uptake is very high at over 95%.
"However, very young babies cannot be vaccinated and for the first few months of life they are very vulnerable. It is vital that when there is more whooping cough circulating we do all we can to protect these newborns and vaccinating pregnant women is the best way to do that."
The vaccine is to be offered from Monday and most women will be able to have it during routine antenatal appointments with a nurse, midwife or GP. Even those previously immunised will be encouraged to boost their immunity by having the injection. Called Repevax, the vaccine is already given to pre-school children in Scotland as part of the routine immunisation programme. It currently comes with the warning: "Limited post-marketing information is available on the safety of administering Repevax to pregnant women. The use of this combined vaccine is not recommended in pregnancy."
However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation – the independent panel of vaccine experts which has advised the Government on this issue – said it has no concerns about the safety of the vaccine, which protects against whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus and polio. It is similar to one currently given to pregnant women in the US.
The Royal College of Midwives has given the campaign their full support.
The vaccine is being offered on a temporary basis, initially for six months, and Scottish health boards will be expected to pay for it out of their existing budgets.
Latest figures released by Health Protection Scotland (HPS) show 1037 confirmed cases of whooping cough in Scotland this year. In England and Wales, 4791 cases have been confirmed, compared to 1118 last year.
Clusters of whooping cough are expected every three to four years, but HPS experts have admitted the speed and scale of the current outbreak were greater than anticipated.
While the illness causes nasty coughing fits in adults, it does not usually trigger long-lasting complications and can be treated with antibiotics. In the very young serious complications and deaths are more common.
Babies and children can often make a distressing "whoop" sound while gasping for air after bouts of coughing.
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