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Whooping cough vaccine: a necessity

Whooping cough needle and vaccine

Have you got your whooping cough vaccine?

A new £10 million programme which will ensure that 650,000 pregnant women are vaccinated against whooping cough has been launched in the U.K after 10 infants under 10 weeks old became victims of the bacterial infection and countless more were hospitalised.

What is whooping cough?

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection, which as the name implies causes an intense cough. This cough makes breathing difficult and often causes pneumonia and other medical complications. Usually, it is these complications which result in infant death.

What is the whooping cough vaccine?

As there is no single vaccine against whooping cough, the vaccine being offered to pregnant women is a 4-in-1 vaccine which protects against whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus and polio. The vaccine will be administered to women between week 28 and week 38 of pregnancy so that their babies receive the antibodies they will need before they can have their own vaccines between month 2 and month 4 of their lives.

A possible Catch-22 situation?

The problem is that normally this vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women, because it has never been tested on them as medical professionals at the time did not think it was worth the risk. Despite this, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists believe that the vaccine will NOT harm the development of your baby, because each of the vaccine’s components have been inactivated and killed. Moreover, in the developing world pregnant women have been immunised against diphtheria, tetanus and polio for decades without any major problems. This means these components of the vaccine are definitely safe for the mother and her baby. In fact, the whooping cough vaccine is not the first vaccine being offered to pregnant women. When swine flu first broke out many pregnant women were advised to get flu jabs just in case. Now, many medical professionals believe that giving pregnant women vaccines in the later stages of their pregnancy will benefit numerous newborns and lower the rate of infant mortality.
It appears the benefits associated with the whooping cough vaccine definitely outweigh the potential risks as the vaccine could save your baby’s life. Therefore, we highly recommend contacting your doctor to get more advice on the whooping cough vaccine.

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