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Posts Tagged ‘pertussis vaccine’

5 Things Expectant Parents Need to Know About Vaccines in Pregnancy

August 10, 2017 1 comment

The more we learn about fetal development, the more advice women seem to get on what to do, and what to avoid, while pregnant.  Of course, all this information can be overwhelming, especially when preparing for the arrival of your first child.  While well-meaning friends and family will provide a constant stream of advice, expectant couples should rely on credible medical sources such as the CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the American College of Nurse Midwives.   

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Here are 5 things these organizations say about the flu and Tdap vaccines routinely recommended during pregnancy:

1) Maternal vaccine recommendations serve a dual purpose.  

The first reason is to protect the mother.  Changes in a woman’s immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy make her more likely to get ill and suffer severe complications from illnesses as compared to non-pregnant women.  In fact, a pregnant woman is five times as likely to suffer complications or death from flu compared to non-pregnant women.  Additionally, if a woman should fall ill during pregnancy, she has a greater chance of hospitalization, spontaneous abortion or complications that can directly impact the health of her baby such as preterm labor and delivery, and low birth weight babies.

The second reason is to protect the baby.  If a woman becomes sick before, during, or even shortly after delivery, she can easily pass a disease on to her baby.  New moms spend a great deal of time in close proximity to their newborn babies, so it is understandable that they might share infections. But infections like flu and pertussis, also known as whooping cough, are not just a threat to a new mother.  They can also be extremely dangerous, and even deadly, to young children.

2) Vaccination timing is important.  

Getting vaccinated during each pregnancy (as opposed to before or after) enables a woman to pass on protective antibodies to her developing baby that can then provide short-term protection against flu and pertussis until the baby is old enough to get their own vaccines.  

The best time for a pregnant woman to get a Tdap vaccine is between 27 and 36 weeks of each pregnancy, with the earlier part of this time period being most preferable.  This preferred vaccination window is based on studies of the cord blood of babies whose mothers received Tdap vaccine in pregnancy and the associated levels of pertussis antibodies detected in that cord blood.  Often times, adults are unaware that they have a pertussis infection, which is why the infection can easily be passed on to babies.  Babies are especially vulnerable to the disease because they only begin getting their own DTaP vaccination to prevent pertussis at 2 months of age.  But even then, they need an additional four doses at 4 months, between 6-9 months, between 12-15 months and again between age 4-5 before they are fully immunized.  The antibodies they receive from their mother helps protect them in those early months after birth.

An inactivated flu shot is recommended for pregnant women at any trimester of each pregnancy.  However, the best time to get a flu vaccine is before the season begins, so that the mother, who herself is at great risk of flu complications, is fully protected before flu activity begins to elevate in her community.  . Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against flu virus infection, it is best for pregnant women to get vaccinated by the end of October, if possible.  Unfortunately, flu vaccines are not recommended until a child is 6 months of age, which is why the protection a child gets from his or her mother is critical to keeping that child flu-free until they can receive their own vaccine.

3) Maternal vaccines protect against two serious illnesses; whooping cough and flu.

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Barbara Loe Fisher is Right. She’s Also To Blame.

March 3, 2016 19 comments

Barbara Loe Fisher may be right about one thing.

We need a better Tdap vaccine to prevent pertussis (also known as whooping cough).

However, her opposition to legislation in Indiana that would require hospital employees be up-to-date on Tdap, flu and MMR vaccines is unsupported.  Fisher has publicly defended her position in a FOX28 news clip when she states that Tdap vaccines should not be mandated because they don’t work. However, this is an example of what’s known as a nirvana fallacy.

VYF_FB01Tdap vaccines do work. Maybe not 100% of the time, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work. 

In fact, data shows that pertussis vaccines protect about 7 out of 10 people who receive them.  That’s enough for the World Health Organization to justify using it across the globe to help prevent pertussis, as well as diphtheria and tetanus. Sorry Barb, but in lieu of a better option to prevent a highly infectious and sometimes deadly  disease such as pertussis, the Tdap vaccine is the best defense we have.  It’s certainly better than the 0 out of 10 people who are protected by avoiding vaccination all together.

Interestingly enough, what Fisher avoids admitting is that her opposition to the whole cell pertussis vaccination (DTP) is why we are in the situation we are in today.  Back in the 80’s, Fisher led the charge against the whole cell pertussis vaccine, claiming it had too many adverse events. This prompted the development of a more purified (acellular) pertussis vaccine (DTaP).  By 1997, a newly licensed DTaP vaccine was being recommended by the ACIP in place of the DTP vaccine for the full 5-dose pediatric schedule.  While the new vaccine appeared less likely to provoke adverse events, studies have since shown that it has not been as effective in providing lasting immunity.

The truth is, Fisher has never really been interested in making vaccines safer.  She co-founded the National Vaccine Information Center in 1982 to help organize a movement of vaccine refusal and oppose any public policy that endorses the use of vaccines.

Unfortunately, while we are stuck with a less than ideal vaccine, children like Callie Van Tornhout are dying from pertussis infection.

People of all ages can be affected by pertussis. However, it is most dangerous for babies, as they are at particularly high risk of severe complications, hospitalization and death.  About half of babies younger than one year who get the disease need care in the hospital, and 1 out of 100 babies who get treatment in the hospital die.  Most unvaccinated children who are living with an infected family member will contract pertussis themselves.  There is no real cure for pertussis, only treatments that help address the symptoms.

Families_callie_van_tornhoutIn the case of Callie Van Tornhout, detailed in the FOX28 news clip out of Indiana, transmission of pertussis from a hospital employee to a vulnerable newborn too young for vaccination proved to be deadly.  Callie was only 38 days old and had never been anywhere besides her family home and the hospital. This is why Callie’s mom Katie Van Tornhout is speaking out in support of the proposed Indiana bill (SB 162).

Katie, like the many others who support this bill, believes that hospital employees who have direct contact with patients should take reasonable precautions in order to protect themselves and their patients from preventable diseases like pertussis.  That means they should be up-to-date on ACIP recommended vaccines such as Tdap, flu and MMR, that are proven to be safe and effective.

Katie explains, ”If you’re taking care of my child in the hospital and you’re not vaccinated, then what good is that? You’re putting that baby in danger.  You’re putting everyone in danger.”

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