Not enough pregnant women getting key vaccines, CDC says
Hospitalization is at least twice as likely for a pregnant woman with the flu, compared to other individual with the illness. And nearly 70% of reported whooping cough deaths occur in babies who haven't even been alive for two months.
But still just a third of pregnant women in the U.S. receive both the influenza and whooping cough (Tdap) vaccines, according to an October bulletin from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Influenza and whooping cough can be deadly, especially in a baby's first few months of life," the bulletin says. "Vaccinating women against these diseases during each pregnancy helps protect both them and their babies."
New Jersey does not track vaccination rates among pregnant women, but State Epidemiologist Tina Tan echoes the advice offered by federal health officials.
"Pregnant women share everything with their babies," Tan said. "That means that when pregnant women get vaccines, they are protecting themselves and giving their babies some early protection too."
This is a particular concern this time of year, as incidences of flu ramp up in the Garden State, said Dr. Todd Rosen, chief of the division of maternal fetal medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson. Rosen has had many "very resistant" patients, he said, even in the face of persistent recommendations that they be vaccinated ahead of their baby's birth.
"Even people who aren't anti-vaxxers, who might accept a vaccine outside of pregnancy, really worry about getting shots when they're pregnant," Rosen said. "They're actually taking a greater chance that either they or the baby will be hurt by not taking the vaccine."
The CDC bulletin says studies show both the flu and Tdap vaccines are "very safe for pregnant women and developing babies."
The general recommendation is that all pregnant women receive the flu vaccine at any time during pregnancy, and Tdap early in their third trimester, during each pregnancy.
A baby is not typically vaccinated on their own for whooping cough until 2 months, and for flu until 6 months.
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