Only 35 percent pregnant women are getting both flu and whooping cough vaccines, says CDC
The CDC recommended that all pregnant women get a flu vaccine during any trimester of each pregnancy and the whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) during the early part of the third trimester of each pregnancy
To protect newborns from deadly infections, pregnant women are given vaccination against influenza and whooping cough. But a recent report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that nearly 65 percent of the women it surveyed haven't received both the shots.
Pregnant women affected by influenza can have a serious chest infection called bronchitis, which can later develop into pneumonia, while the fetus suffers the risk of premature birth, low-birthweight or death. Whooping cough can be equally devastating. It is estimated that 69 percent of reported whooping cough deaths occur in babies less than two months old. About 20 babies have died each year due to whooping cough since 2010.
The CDC team conducted a survey among 2,100 pregnant women aged between 18 and 49 from August 2018 to April 2019 to assess the vaccination rates among pregnant women. The survey shows that 54 percent of these women received flu vaccines and 55 percent received the Tdap vaccine for whoooping cough. In addition to targeting whooping cough, Tdap also attacks other bacterial diseases such as tetanus and diphtheria. Vaccine rates were high among those who were referred to health care providers. The survey also found that the least vaccination rates were among Black, non-Hispanic women.
Vaccines contain antibodies against infectious agents. Through vaccination, expectant mothers can pass on these protective antibodies to the developing fetus. Besides benefiting the fetus, it also prevents pregnant women from contracting flu and whooping cough. Without vaccinations, women suffering from influenza are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized if they are pregnant, according to CDC. This is because during pregnancy women show changes in the immune system, making them more prone to infections and hospitalization.
Despite the benefits, only 1 in 3 US pregnant women receive both the flu shot and whooping cough vaccine.
"CDC recommends that all pregnant women should get a flu vaccine during any trimester of each pregnancy and the whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) during the early part of the third trimester of each pregnancy as part of routine prenatal care," the press statement read.
In the same statement, CDC Director Robert Redfield, said, “I want to reinforce that all expectant mothers should be up-to-date with recommended vaccinations as part of their routine prenatal care. CDC strongly recommends that health care providers speak with moms-to-be about the benefits of safe Tdap and flu vaccination for their health and the well-being of their babies.”
Amanda Cohn, chief medical officer in CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, encourages obstetricians and midwives, who are on the front line of care for expectant mothers, to start discussing the importance of maternal vaccination early in pregnancy, and continue vaccination discussions with patients throughout pregnancy.