The CNN website reports on a study published in the journal Pediatrics that indicated increased adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination rates appear to “result in fewer pertussis-related hospitalizations in infants.” CNN writes, “Also known as whooping cough, pertussis is a highly contagious and often serious disease, especially in young children. Whooping cough is preventable through vaccination, but newborns, who are the most vulnerable to the most serious side effects, can’t get the first dose of vaccine until they are 2 months old. Then they need four more vaccinations before they turn 7 to get full protection. This is why young children are highly dependent on the people close to them to be vaccinated.”
The study compared data on hospitalization rates and patient samples before and after the Tdap vaccine “was recommended for universal administration to adolescents in 2006.” According to the researchers, hospitalization rates in 2011 “were 30% of what we would have expected had there not been a vaccine.”
Other ways to protect infants from pertussis include vaccinations for pregnant women. In 2012, a federal advisory committee recommended all pregnant women be immunized for pertussis or whooping cough. The committee says the vaccine should be administered during each pregnancy in the late second or third trimester (27 to 36 weeks gestation), regardless of whether the patient has had Tdap in the past. If that’s not possible, the mother should receive the vaccine immediately after childbirth or before leaving the hospital or birthing center, the committee said.
HealthDay adds the results “highlight the importance of raising vaccination rates among teens and adults to end the ongoing whooping cough epidemic among infants,” blamed on failing to vaccinate and waning immunity.
“We know infants get pertussis from family members, including older siblings,” study lead author Dr. Katherine Auger, a pediatrician in the division of hospital medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, said in a medical center news release.
The bottom line? If you and your family has not yet had the Tdap (tetanus, diptheria, pertusis [whooping cough]) vaccine, now’s the time.