Whooping cough vaccine for pregnant women

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly infectious, illness that can lead to pneumonia, brain damage and even death, particularly in young babies.

Research conducted in the UK on the vaccination of pregnant women, shows that vaccinating them against whooping cough has been highly effective in protecting young babies until they can receive their own vaccinations from two months of age. Pregnant women can therefore help protect their babies by getting vaccinated.

The ideal time for vaccination is from 16 weeks up to 32 weeks pregnant, but evidence still shows that the vaccine is still effective in later pregnancy.

The immunity that the pregnant mother receives from the vaccination is passed to the baby through the placenta thereby providing passive protection for them until they are old enough to be routinely vaccinated against whooping cough at two months old.

The whooping cough vaccine has been used routinely in pregnant women in the UK since October 2012, and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is carefully monitoring its safety. The MHRA's study of around 20,000 vaccinated women has found no evidence of risks to pregnancy or babies. In fact, the study illustrates that babies born to women vaccinated at least a week before birth had a 91% reduced risk of becoming ill with whooping cough in their first weeks of life, compared to babies whose mothers had not been vaccinated.

A 2017 study published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America reported that vaccination with whooping cough vaccine, Tdap, during the third trimester of pregnancy prevented more than three out of four (78 percent) cases of whooping cough in babies younger than two months. The American Center for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends women get the vaccination during each pregnancy to provide critical short-term protection to babies when they are most at risk for this life-threatening illness.

Possible side effects

Most side effects are mild, meaning they do not affect daily activities. The most common side effects from the Tdap vaccine include:

  • Redness, swelling, pain, and tenderness where you got the shot

  • Body-ache

  • Fatigue

  • Fever

Dr. Zipp advises that all pregnant patients should be aware of the dangers of whooping cough and should seriously consider having the vaccination in consultation with their gynaecologist.





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