The majority of pregnant women in the United States haven’t received two vaccines that could greatly reduce their risk of developing two common illnesses widely found in hospitals. Both whooping cough and the flu can be contracted by new mothers and their newly born babies, putting both the mother and infant at risk of hospitalization or, in a worst-case scenario, death.
The warning comes in a newly released report from the CDC, which found that 65-percent of expecting mothers in the US haven’t been vaccinated against whooping cough and influenza. Getting these vaccines during pregnancy is recommended; antibodies produced by the mother’s body are passed to the unborn baby, helping protect it from both conditions.
This is important because newborns aren’t yet old enough to be vaccinated themselves. Both whooping cough and the flu are very dangerous in babies, often resulting in death. In addition, the CDC points out that women who have recently given birth are at much higher risk of contracting both illnesses, often resulting in hospitalization.
The Tdap vaccine protects against whooping cough and is recommended during the early part of the third trimester during pregnancy. The flu vaccine, meanwhile, can be administered during any part of the pregnancy, according to the CDC. Both vaccines are considered a routine part of prenatal care.
CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, said in a statement:
I want to reinforce that all expectant mothers should be up-to-date with recommended vaccinations as part of their routine prenatal care. CDC strongly recommends that health care providers speak with moms-to-be about the benefits of safe Tdap and flu vaccination for their health and the well-being of their babies.