June 24, 2011 — Pregnant women who have not been vaccinated against pertussis, also known as whooping cough, should receive the shot to possibly help protect their infants after birth, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted on Wednesday, the AP/USA Today reports. Women should receive the vaccine late in the second or in the third trimester, ACIP said (AP/USA Today, 6/23).
Under current practice, infants are vaccinated for pertussis at two, four and six months through the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis series of shots (Rettner, MyHealthNewsDaily/MSNBC , 6/22). However, most infant deaths and hospitalizations for the illness occur in the first two months of life (AP/USA Today, 6/23). The advantage of vaccinating pregnant women is that they might pass immunity to the fetus so that the infant already has protective antibodies upon birth, according to William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
The number of cases of pertussis in the U.S. has been on the rise in recent years, up from 13,000 in 2008 to nearly 17,000 in 2009 (MyHealthNewsDaily/MSNBC, 6/22). Outbreaks last year in California and other states pushed the nationwide total to 21,000 cases (AP/USA Today, 6/23).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership