I had my monthly doctor’s visit this week and was very pleased when I received a script from my physician reminding me it was time to get my Tdap vaccine as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For most people, the recommendation for Tdap (which protects from Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis) is every ten years, but as of October 24, 2012 that all changed for pregnant women. Even though I was vaccinated in July 2012 following the birth of my daughter, I still needed roll up my sleeve and get the shot (which I did yesterday), as do all pregnant women between 27 and 36 weeks gestation, irrespective of their prior history of receiving Tdap. Vaccination during pregnancy does more than just prevent a mother from getting whooping cough and subsequently infecting a newborn. It actually allows for “transplacental transfer of maternal pertussis antibodies from mother to infant,” providing protection against the disease early in life before infants are eligible to be immunized. To put it simply, if you vaccinate during pregnancy you are helping to protect your child against what can be a fatal illness.
So does this eliminate the need for cocooning? Absolutely not. It is still very important that ALL family members and caregivers go out and get vaccinated at least two weeks before coming into contact with an infant, but this new recommendation provides just one more level of protection. In 2010, 27,550 cases of pertussis were reported in the U.S.; 3,350 of those were in infants younger than 6 months of age. Tragically 25 of those infants died. It is expected that vaccinating expectant mothers will prevent more infant hospitalization and deaths from pertussis than cocooning alone.
Pertussis is serious and can cause life-threatening complications in infants, especially within the first 6 months of life. The younger the infant, the more likely treatment in the hospital will be needed. Of those hospitalized, approximately 1 in 5 will get pneumonia and 1 in 100 will die. Don’t let your child become a statistic. Take the time to get vaccinated!