The CDC recommends that all pregnant women get both the flu vaccine and whooping cough vaccine, but only 35% of women do
Flu and whooping cough vaccines are strongly encouraged for every pregnancy and yet, the CDC reports that only 35% of pregnant women get both vaccines and only half of all pregnant women get one vaccine or the other.
According to the CDC, all pregnant women can get the flu vaccine at any time during their pregnancy, but they should get the whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) early in their third trimester for each new pregnancy.
The CDC reports that the most common reason pregnant women refused the flu shot is that they thought it wasn’t effective and for the Tdap, they opted out because they weren’t aware that they needed a new Tdap for each pregnancy. A big reason why women opted out of both vaccines is because they felt it was unsafe for their child. Additionally, 25% of the women surveyed said that their healthcare provider never mentioned that they could or should get vaccinated.
Dr. Jamieson, a former CDC official who now practices obstetrics and gynecology, told The New York Times that misinformation about the flu vaccine is rampant in her practice. For example, one common bit of misinformation is a 2011 study that made an association between the flu vaccine and miscarriage, however, the study did not suggest there was a casual link but that didn’t stop anti-vaxxers from pointing to the study as proof that the flu vaccine is bad. A recent study set out to expand upon the 2011 study and found that in more than 1200 women across three different flu seasons, there was absolutely no correlation between the flu vaccine and miscarriage.
The facts are that the flu vaccine and the whooping cough vaccine are a) safe for pregnant women and b) the only way to protect your child until they are old enough to get the vaccines themselves, which is two months old for whooping cough vaccine and six months for the flu shot.
“Pregnant women who get vaccinated pass antibodies to their babies protecting babies in the first few months of life before they can get their own vaccines,” the CDC said.
According to the CDC, flu vaccination during pregnancy lowers risk of influenza hospitalization in babies by 72% and Tdap vaccination lowers risk in babies by 91%. Whooping cough can be fatal for babies and “sixty-nine percent of reported whooping cough deaths occur in babies less than 2 months old.” As for the flu, “babies less than 6 months old are at the highest risk of all children for hospitalization from influenza.”
At the end of the day, vaccines are the best way to protect your child. Talk to your doctor about it today.