DTaP booster for pregnant women
medwireNews: Pregnant women are to be offered a booster DTaP vaccination in the final trimester, in a bid to help protect very young infants from whooping cough as the outbreak continues to spread, the Department of Health has announced.
The temporary programme starts next week and aims to boost the short-term immunity passed on by pregnant women to their newborn babies.
Infants under the age of 12 weeks are particularly vulnerable to whooping cough. Already 302 cases have been reported so far this year in this age group, more than double the number in the same period last year, and nine young infants have died, up from seven in the whole of 2011.
The move comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended that the booster vaccine - Repevax - should be offered to the approximately 650,000 pregnant women a year who are between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy.
Professor David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation, said in a press statement: "Over the last year we have seen in a rise in the number of whooping cough cases with the most serious cases being in young children too young to be protected in routine vaccinations.
"The vaccine that we are offering to pregnant women has been recommended by experts and a similar vaccine is already given to pregnant women in the US. If you are pregnant, getting vaccinated is the best way you can protect your baby against whooping cough."
The vaccine should be offered to pregnant women during routine antenatal appointments with their GP, nurse or midwife.
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By Caroline Price