Pertussis (whooping cough) is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the respiratory tract. Vaccination against this disease usually takes place in the early childhood with the help of the DPT vaccination (diphteria and tetanus toxoids and pertussis vaccine). And although this is the most common method of dealing with a disease, there are other options – for example, Tdap pregnancy vaccination.
What Is Tdap Vaccine?
Pertussis (whooping cough) is a disease that is especially dangerous for newborns under six months of age. The disease can cause serious complications, including pneumonia (over 5%), weight loss, acute encephalitis, and even death.
Tdap stands for the tetanus-diphtheria-acelluar pertussis (Tdap) vaccine. The vaccine provides the best protection against the disease, but the first dose of vaccine can be obtained only from the age of two months. Immunity to the disease is developed gradually after receiving the next dose of vaccine. The second dose should be received at the age of 4 months, followed by 6 months and 1 year in order for the child to develop the necessary immunity to the disease. Thus, in the first months of life, children are not fully protected from the disease.
That’s why experts strongly recommend pregnant women do Tdap pregnancy vaccination against pertussis to protect the newborn from this disease. A new study confirmed that the vaccine is completely safe for pregnant women and does not increase the risk of premature birth or low birth weight of the babies. The research results are published in the journal JAMA.
Vaccination Against Pertussis
Pertussis is a contagious respiratory disease characterized by a strong and uncontrolled cough. For newborns, the risk of whooping cough is very high, and the disease can be fatal, especially in children under 1 year of age. However, according to the National immunization schedule, babies receive their first pertussis vaccine only at 2 months.
Therefore, since 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been recommending pregnant women receive pertussis vaccine in the 3rd trimester of each pregnancy, between the 27th and 36th weeks. It has been proven that antibodies to the pathogen that form in the mother’s blood pass through the placenta and protect the newborn from infection. There are currently two pertussis vaccines – DTaP for children under 11 years old and Tdap for children over 11 years old and adults. Tdap vaccine is also recommended for pregnant women. However, many future mothers are scared of vaccination, suggesting that it could harm the fetus or cause pregnancy complications.
To dispel these fears, researchers at the HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research in Minneapolis, in the Minneapolis Institute of Education and Research, analyzed 123,194 California residents who gave birth to a living child from January 1, 2010 to November 15, 2012. 21% (26,229 women) in the third trimester of pregnancy received the Tdap vaccine. Comparison of pregnancy outcomes among those who received and did not receive the vaccine showed that Tdap vaccination does not increase the risk of developing preeclampsia, the risk of slower growth of the fetus, as well as the risk of premature birth and low birth weight of the child.
The only, but extremely rare, side effect of vaccination was chorioamnionitis- inflammation of the fetal membranes. In vaccinated women, it is found 0.6 percent more often than in unvaccinated ones.
How Can You Protect Your Child from Pertussis Until He/She Develops the Necessary Immunity?
Vaccination of the mother in the final period of pregnancy (at 27 – 36 weeks) allows a pregnant woman to develop a high level of antibodies to whooping cough and transfer them to the fetus through the placenta. Thus, a child is born protected from the disease until his body develops immunity. Tdap pregnancy vaccination allows you to transfer the maximum amount of antibody to the baby and protect him/her.
Vaccination of the mother also protects her from pertussis and prevents the potential transmission of the disease from mother to fetus. This prevents the common form of transmission of the disease to the child from family members. The statistics shows that over half of children are infected with whooping cough from their parents.
The pertussis vaccine for pregnant women is provided in the form of a combination serum, which also contains the vaccine against tetanus and diphtheria, and is called Tdap.
Why Is Tdap Pregnancy Vaccination Recommended during Each Pregnancy?
To protect the infant during the first four months of life, a very high level of vaccination is needed in the pregnant mother. It is made in order to ensure that a large amount of antibodies against pertussis is transmitted to the fetus through the placenta, which will protect the newborn. A newborn needs a large amount of antibodies, because it has no other protection against whooping cough. The level of antibodies in the vaccinated mother, as in any adult, significantly decreases within a few months after vaccination against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap). The amount of antibodies remaining several months after vaccination is enough to protect the mother of the child herself for several years, but it is not enough to protect the fetus from pertussis during the next pregnancy.
How Effective Is Tdap Pregnancy Vaccination for Preventing Pertussis in Newborns?
In England, vaccination of pregnant women began in October 2012. In 2012 in England, 14 newborns died from whooping cough, and in 2013 only 3. All children did not reach the age at which they could be vaccinated, and none of the mothers was vaccinated during pregnancy.
The effectiveness of Tdap pregnancy vaccine against pertussis in preventing disease in newborns today is 89%.
How Safe Is the Pertussis Vaccine for Pregnant Women?
Over half a million pregnant women in England have been vaccinated against the disease. No extraordinary results of pregnancy have been registered, both among mothers and among newborns. About 18,000 pregnant women who received the vaccine were under close observation. The results did not reveal any differences between them and women who did not receive the vaccine.
The World Health Organization’s Vaccine Advisory Commission tested the reliability and effectiveness of pertussis vaccine for pregnant women, and in April 2014 decided that the vaccine is reliable and effective.
Why Is Pertussis Vaccine Include Tetanus and Diphtheria Vaccine?
Nowadays, there is no serum, consisting only of pertussis vaccine. The pertussis vaccine is a part of a serum that also contains the vaccine against tetanus and diphtheria. The tetanus vaccine and the tetanus diphtheria vaccine are safe and regular vaccines for pregnant women. Studies have shown that the vaccine against tetanus and diphtheria does not harm the child and does not cause any violations.
Vaccination against pertussis (Tdap) during pregnancy protects the newborn from the dangerous effects of pertussis.
The vaccine is effective and reliable for both the pregnant mother and the newborn. The vaccine protects the baby in the early stages of life before he/she can be vaccinated directly.
This vaccination is included in the basket of medical services, and it is carried out in the health insurance scheme.