Tdap vaccine during pregnancy reduces newborn pertussis risk
EDITOR’S NOTE: This an article by local Centers for Disease Control Sentinel Physician Dr. Robert P. Blereau of Morgan City.
A recent study found that vaccinating pregnant women with the tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccine during their third trimester was nearly 78 percent effective in preventing pertussis in their infants younger than 2 months of age.
The reason for using the Tdap triple-combination vaccine is because no single pertussis vaccine is being manufactured.
Infants younger than one year old are at the highest risk for severe complications of death from pertussis.
Typically, between five and 15 babies die from whooping cough each year in the United States.
Most deaths are in those too young to be protected by getting their own whooping cough vaccine, which begins at two months of age.
Before the pertussis vaccine was introduced in the 1940s, more than 200,000 cases of pertussis were reported in the United States each year.
After the vaccine was introduced, pertussis cases dropped to fewer than 10,000 by 1965 with the lowest number of just over 1,000 reported in 1976.
Starting in the 1980s, however, pertussis cases began to rise again with a peak of more than 48,000 cases in 2012.
That year the Centers for Disease Control began recommending women get a pertussis vaccination during each pregnancy, with a subsequent drop in the number of cases.
So far in 2017, more than 11,000 cases have been reported.
Less than half of pregnant women who delivered infants in the United States between 2015 and 2016 received the Tdap vaccine.
The CDC recommends pregnant patients receive Tdap vaccine during every pregnancy, preferably during gestational weeks 27 through 36, to protect infants from pertussis in their first months of life.
This vaccination timing results in the greatest transfer of protective antibodies from mother to infant and provides the best protection.