While vaccinations can be a contentious area of discussion, the fact is that the majority of research demonstrates just how helpful vaccinations can be for pregnant women and for their babies. For example, we know that a pregnant woman who gets the flu shot can greatly reduce a number of potential pregnancy complications. According to new research, the vaccine for whooping cough (also known as “pertussis”) is an important one for pregnant women to get, rather than waiting until they give birth.
According to the most recent data, postpartum vaccines don’t give enough protection to the new baby against certain illnesses. This is the case with whooping cough. During a baby’s first weeks while her immune system is developing and maturing, she needs protection from a variety of illnesses.
A window of vulnerability
After a woman receives the whooping cough vaccine, her body isn’t going to be protected from the bacteria that cause it for about two weeks. During that window of vulnerability, she could become infected. Breast milk doesn’t contain antibodies that fight whooping cough, so her baby is at a risk of being infected with the illness.
The bacteria that causes whooping cough has an incubation period of up to three weeks. That means those first two weeks postpartum are critical.
Whooping cough and infant death
Death rates are significant among infants in their first six weeks of life who contract whooping cough. The highest rate of infection of any population is infants less than six months of age. According to the CDC, whooping cough was responsible for the deaths of 10 babies in California in 2010.
In fact, because of the results of these and other studies, the CDC recommends that women get vaccinated against the illness during the second or third trimester of pregnancy.
Because infants can’t receive vaccines when they’re most vulnerable, it’s up to moms to get the vaccines they need in order to protect their little ones during those vulnerable times.
So, what do you think? Would you be vaccinated against Whooping Cough during pregnancy? Do you have concerns about the practice?