Whooping cough: vaccination during pregnancy helps protect the newborn

The High Authority for Health now recommends vaccinating all pregnant women against whooping cough, in order to protect infants in whom this disease is particularly dangerous. This recommendation will be integrated into the 2022 vaccination calendar.

Doctor Anne Sikorav

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Whooping cough: vaccination during pregnancy helps protect the newborn
Photo credits: © Marina Demidiuk / Shutterstock

It is also called “rooster crowing disease “. Whooping cough, this highly contagious respiratory tract infection caused by the bacteria Whooping cough Bordetella“is responsible for violent and prolonged fits of coughing that can persist for several weeks.

Why get vaccinated during pregnancy?

This disease can become particularly serious or even fatal in fragile people, but also in infants. In France, more than 90% of pertussis-related deaths occur in newborns under six months of age. Between 2013 and 2021, there are also 993 cases of whooping cough that required hospitalization in children under one year old, according to figures from the Figures of the National Whooping Cough Network, Renacoq.

Parents (in 41 to 57% of cases) and siblings (17 to 24% of cases) are the main sources of contamination in newborns/infants – Haute Autorité de Santé

In infants, there is a period of high risk of contamination because vaccination is only possible from the age of two months. Thanks to her mother’s vaccination, the newborn can be protected thanks to the passage through the placenta of maternal antibodies against whooping cough.

In March 2018, the High Authority for Health had already come out in favor of vaccination against whooping cough in pregnant women in the context of an epidemic in Mayotte. But in its latest recommendations posted online on April 12, 2022, it now recommends this vaccination for all pregnant women throughout the country.

When should you get vaccinated?

Vaccination is recommended from the second trimester of each pregnancyfavoring if possible the period between 20 and 36 weeks of amenorrhea (absence of periods)” details the HAS.

And what if the vaccination could not be carried out during the pregnancy? Catch-up can be doneand “it is then necessary to vaccinate the mother immediately postpartum, before leaving the maternity ward, even if she is breastfeeding“adds the health authority. This is called the strategy of “cocoon”.

Finally, it is even the whole entourage of the newborn who should be vaccinated : parents, but also siblings, grandparents as well “than all other persons likely to be in close and lasting contact with the infant during the first six months of life”.

Is this vaccine safe during pregnancy?

Yes, the whooping cough vaccine is well tolerated.

Vaccination of pregnant women against whooping cough is already recommended by the World Health Organization and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics. So these are “at least 30 countries in the world” who already recommend this vaccination in pregnant women “for at least ten years”emphasizes the HAS.

The data on the safety and tolerance of maternal vaccination against whooping cough are reassuring – Haute Autorité de santé

Moreover, the various studies show that vaccination against whooping cough is not not associated with an increased risk of adverse eventswhether in the pregnant woman, the fetus or the newborn, underlines the instance.

In France, a significant proportion of pregnant women, around 60%, do not know their vaccination status or are not up to date with their vaccination.
Among the whooping cough vaccines available in our country, only two vaccines are currently authorized during pregnancy: Repevax® (from Sanofi Pasteur) and Boostrixtetra® (from GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines) .

Read also: Babies better protected since the passage from 3 to 11 compulsory vaccines

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