Mums to be and those planning to start a family may have seen reports about the Department of Health’s decision to offer pregnant women across the UK a vaccination to protect babies from whooping cough – cases of which are on the rise. But what does this mean for women and babies? If you are pregnant should you get vaccinated or are you concerned about safety? We ask Dr Stephen Herman, consultant paediatrician, at The Portland Hospital for his take:
“The recent sharp rise in the incidence of whooping cough poses a risk for babies less than eight weeks old who have not begun the routine immunisation schedule. Tragically nine infants under twelve weeks have died this year in the UK from whooping cough.
The immunisation schedule cannot be advanced because of the immune system's poor response and so the Department of Health has advised that whilst the present epidemic lasts a booster whooping cough jab is given in late pregnancy. The antibodies so produced cross the placenta and give protection to the baby for a few months.”
Is it safe to be vaccinated?
“The vaccine has been in use in children since 2004 and has an excellent safety record. I would encourage mothers to be to take up this offer via their family doctor and also for added protection, to breast feed the baby.”