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Women Worry If Pertussis Vaccine Is Safe To Get During Pregnancy; OTIS Offers Answers
California Health Officials Urge Pregnant Women To Get Vaccinated Against Whooping Cough; OTIS Offers Answers To Concerned Mothers
By: Nicole Chavez, Communications Coordinator
The expanded pertussis vaccination recommendation comes after health officials declare whooping cough cases in California have reached epidemic levels. According to the state epidemiologist, Dr. Gilberto Chavez, In addition to the typical series of childhood pertussis immunizations, CDPH now recommends an adolescent-adult pertussis booster vaccine (Tdap) for the following groups:
· Anyone 7 years and older who is not fully immunized, including those who are
more than 64 years old.
· Women of childbearing age, before, during, or immediately after pregnancy.
· People who have contact with pregnant women or infants.
“We are facing what could be the worst year for pertussis that this state has seen in more than 50 years,” said Dr. Chavez.
1,500 cases of pertussis have been reported in the first six months statewide, five times more when compared with the same time frame last year. Another 700 potential cases are currently being investigated. In addition, the state reports six infants under the age of three months have died so far this year from pertussis.
Some symptoms of whooping cough include runny nose and coughing, which can worsen to rapid fits of coughing that create a high-pitched whooping sound.
“We’ve seen an increase in calls from pregnant women with questions and concerns about the pertussis vaccine recommendation over the past week,” said Sonia Alvarado, a Counselor Supervisor with OTIS’ California affiliate, CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line. “We’re even getting calls from pregnant women planning a visit to California who aren’t sure if they should get the vaccine or not,” she added.
“In general, vaccines that cannot give a person the disease, like Tdap, are not considered contraindicated for pregnancy,” explained Mara Gaudette, an OTIS Genetic Counselor. Tdap is a combination vaccine against pertussis, diphtheria, and tetanus that was licensed in the US in 2005. Ideally, Tdap is given to women before pregnancy. “Otherwise, it is recommended that it be given to the mother after delivery or before leaving the hospital or birthing center in an effort to reduce the chance of the infant contracting pertussis from his mother,” said Gaudette.
Fathers, grandparents, and other caregivers should also be vaccinated to protect infants, explained Gaudette. “In communities where there is an outbreak and a pregnant woman is at increased risk for contracting pertussis, Tdap may be recommended during pregnancy,” she added.
Pertussis has not been established to cause pregnancy problems, although it is not well studied, according to Gaudette. What’s important to point out, however, is that severe disease does have a potential concern for pregnancy. Pertussis tends to be less severe in adults than children, but can still result in adult hospitalization.
According to the CDC’s Vaccine Information Statement, as many as 2 in 100 adolescents and 5 in 100 adults with pertussis are hospitalized or have complications, including pneumonia. These statistics are in comparison to the more than 50% of infants who need to be hospitalized and the 1 in 5 infants who get pneumonia as a complication.
If a woman is planning on becoming pregnant or is currently pregnant, she is encouraged to talk to her doctor about getting the Tdap vaccine, said Gaudette. Questions or concerns about the CDPH’s expanded recommendations to prevent the spread of whooping cough, can also be directed to OTIS’ California affiliate, CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line, at (800) 532-3749. Outside of California, please call OTIS counselors at (866) 626-6847.
OTIS is a North American non-profit dedicated to providing accurate evidence-based, clinical information to patients and health care professionals about exposures during pregnancy and lactation through its toll-free hotline and website, www.otispregnancy.org. Nearly 100,000 women seek information about birth defect prevention from OTIS every year. Its California affiliate is housed at the University of California, San Diego.
For more information or if you would like to schedule an interview, please contact Nicole Chavez at (619) 294-6262. Spanish-speaking interviews are also available.
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OTIS, the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing accurate evidence-based, clinical information to patients and health care professionals about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Page Updated Last on: Jul 28, 2010