Pregnant women urged to get whooping cough vaccine following death of a baby twin who was not vaccinated

Date Published:
15 Oct 2014
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PREGNANT women are being urged to have the whooping cough vaccine in their last trimester to offer the best protection to their newborns — the most vulnerable to the killer cough.

The call comes after the death of a Hunter New England baby, who had not received any of the three scheduled whooping cough vaccines administered at six weeks, four months and six months of age.

The baby was a seven-month-old twin whose sibling survived whooping cough.

Immunisation expert Professor Robert Booy said the latest research shows the pertussis vaccine given in pregnancy passes antibodies to the unborn child, protecting them in the first six weeks of life.

“Mother passes antibodies to the baby in the womb and mother is then protected as well. The biggest risk to a baby is the mother who spends the most time with baby and if she can’t catch whooping cough, the baby can’t,” Prof Booy said.

The tiniest babies are most vulnerable because they are too young to have the vaccine until six weeks of age and are not fully covered until the four month and six months vaccines are administered.

The Australian Immunisation Handbook currently recommends pertussis vaccination in the third trimester, but it is not federally funded through the National Immunisation Program. Read more