May 7, 2015
do all they can to keep their babies safe and healthy. As we celebrate Mother’s
Day, the physicians of Texas Medical Association (TMA) urge pregnant moms and
moms-to-be to get vaccinated against whooping cough, or pertussis.
can’t get their first pertussis vaccine until they are 2 months old, so mom’s
vaccination helps protect them during these early weeks of life,” said Jeanne
S. Sheffield, MD, a Dallas obstetrician/gynecologist and member of TMA’s
Committee on Infectious Diseases. “Whooping cough is especially dangerous for babies
under one year of age, possibly even deadly, so getting vaccinated is an easy
and effective thing a mom can do to help keep them healthy.”
Tdap vaccination (a combination vaccination that protects against tetanus,
diphtheria, and pertussis) is recommended during each pregnancy, according to the
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the vaccination may be given
any time during pregnancy, the CDC recommends pregnant moms receive it between
27 and 36 weeks of gestation, or during the third trimester.
Vaccinating women with Tdap during pregnancy helps them develop
antibodies against pertussis that are passed on to the baby, said Dr. Sheffield.
The protection is two-fold: Mom is less likely to catch and pass whooping cough
to her baby, and baby gets protection from the disease until he or she can
begin to get vaccinated. Because babies require a series of pertussis
vaccinations once they’re old enough, they are not fully protected until
they’re close to 18 months of age.
course, not only mom could pass pertussis on to the baby. In most cases, infants catch
pertussis from a family member or caregiver. Pertussis symptoms in adults can
be mild, so a mother, father, or other caregiver might unknowingly spread
pertussis to a baby.
why physicians recommend that all adults who will come into contact with the
baby get a Tdap vaccination. This includes parents,
siblings, grandparents, child care providers, and health care workers. “We call this ‘cocooning,’ ” said
Dr. Sheffield, “where you protect the defenseless baby in a vaccine cocoon
until baby can protect him- or herself.”
reported 3,985 pertussis cases in 2013, the most cases in a year since 1959,
according to the Texas Department of State Health
Eleven percent of those (most of them children under age 1) ended up in the
hospital, and all five
of the people who died of pertussis in 2013 were infants. In 2014, statistics
improved slightly with 2,576 cases of pertussis and two infant deaths (based on
you’re pregnant, physicians say, ask your doctor about Tdap vaccine. TMA has published a fact sheet about the importance
of pertussis vaccination, in English and Spanish
Be Wise — Immunize is funded by the TMA Foundation, thanks to
generous support from H-E-B and TMF Health Quality Institute, and gifts from
physicians and their families.
TMA is the largest
state medical society in the nation, representing more than 48,000 physician
and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county
medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to
improve the health of all Texans. TMA Foundation is the
philanthropic arm of the association and raises funds to support the public
health and science priority initiatives of TMA and the family of medicine.
TMA actively works to
improve immunization rates in Texas through its Be Wise — ImmunizeSM
program. Be Wise works with local communities to give free and low-cost shots
to Texans and educate people about the importance of vaccination. More than
277,000 shots have been given to Texas children, adolescents, and adults
through the Be Wise program since 2004.
Wise — Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.
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Contact: Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512)
656-7320; email: brent.annear[at]texmed[dot]org
Levine (512) 370-1380; Cell: (512) 750-0971; email: steve.levine[at]texmed[dot]org
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