Whooping cough vaccine recommended for expecting mothers - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Expecting mothers urged to get whooping cough vaccine

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For only the second time ever, a vaccine has been recommended for all pregnant women: It's the whooping cough vaccine (the flu shot was the first one recommended in 1990s).

An expert government panel announced Wednesday they are urging all expecting mothers to get a shot to prevent whooping cough. The shot should be taken in the final three months of the pregnancy.

This comes after an outbreak of the virus like we haven't seen in some time. More than 32,000 cases, including 16 deaths, have been reported so far this year, and 2012 is on track to be the nation's worst year for whooping cough since 1959.

The reason mothers have to get this shot is because a baby's immune system is too immature to be vaccinated -- and most cases have been in children two months and younger.

Health officials increasingly have pushed to get older children and adults vaccinated, to reduce the number of carriers who might infect vulnerable infants. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of infected newborns got the disease from their mothers.

Both the mother and father should be getting this shot, as well as grandparents or other family and friends that will be around the baby for a significant amount of time.

CDC officials acknowledge they have data on only hundreds of women who got the shots during pregnancy. What's more, the vaccine is only licensed to be given to adults once.

Under the new recommendation, women who raise large families may be getting the vaccine three or four or more times. But CDC experts repeated there's no evidence of serious risk to either mothers or newborns.

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