Protection From Pertussis
Are you fully vaccinated for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis? If not, your obstetrician may be recommending that you get a Tdap immunization during your pregnancy -- both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control released updates for the recommended immunization schedule, and this is the biggest news by far.
Vaccinating pregnant moms
You may know that vaccination for influenza is recommended for pregnant moms -- it helps protect her baby, who will be too young for the vaccination herself until she is 6 months old. The same theory is behind this new recommendation for the Tdap vaccine -- young babies are at the biggest risk for serious complications of pertussis, and routine vaccination doesn’t begin until they are 2 months old.
According to the CDC, pertussis is on the rise. Nationwide, reported cases have more than doubled in the last year alone. There were 18 reported deaths in 2012, with the majority of those being infants under 3 months of age. By vaccinating the primary caretaker of the child, it can help prevent infection until the child is old enough to receive her own shots.
Reason for upswing
One reason that pertussis is coming around again may be that more parents are refusing or delaying the vaccine for their child, but another (and probably bigger) reason is that after so many years, the effects of the vaccine can wear off. This is why boosters are important -- older kids and adults are often the ones who are responsible for spreading the disease. Boosters are on the schedule for middle schoolers, but the effects may wear off before this -- a lot of kids affected are between 7 and 10 years of age.
Pregnant women are the ones pegged for vaccination by this official recommendation, but it’s a good idea for all older kids and adults in the baby’s life to get a booster too -- not just Dad and siblings, but grandparents, aunts, uncles -- anyone who will be around when your baby is very small.