A new vaccine schedule released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says pregnant women should get a booster tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine to help protect their infants from whooping cough. Updates to the CDC's vaccination schedule were also published concurrently today in Pediatrics and the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Experts say that vaccinating mothers-to-be serves the dual purpose of helping to protect them from whooping cough, which can be passed on to their infants.
"It turns out that immunity wanes pretty quickly," according to Dr. H. Cody Meissner, a pediatrician from Tufts University School of Medicine who also serves on the CDC's immunization committee.
"Without boosting with each pregnancy, a mother's immunity will wane and she will have much less immunity to pass on to the baby," Meissner told Reuters Health.
In a strategy known as cocooning, health experts also recommend immunizing a new baby's father and siblings, as well as any other caretakers, although such recommendation is not part of the new immunization schedule released by the CDC.
As explained to Reuters Health by Dr. Daniel McGee, a pediatrician with Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids who wasn't involved in the new guidelines, "It's a good time to make sure that everyone who will be caring for the child is also up to date on their vaccines."
"You need to make sure if grandma and grandpa are coming to visit, they're protected as well," McGee added.
In addition to the new guidelines for Moms-to-be, updates to the CDC's vaccination schedule include a routine Tdap shot for those 65 years and older, as well as a pneumococcal vaccine approved for adults with compromised immune systems, such as kidney failure.