Public Health Urges Prenatal Immunization to Combat Pertussis Risk
Montgomery County Health Department today warns parents about the continued dangers of pertussis (whooping cough). “Vaccinated mothers pass protective antibodies to their infants during pregnancy,” said Mary Perez, Health Director. “Right now, it’s estimated that fewer than half of all pregnant women in North Carolina are vaccinated against whooping cough. We need to increase that number to help improve the health of our children and of our communities.”
All expecting mothers are urged to receive a pertussis vaccine (called Tdap because it covers tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis). Prenatal vaccination will help protect newborn children until they are old enough to receive their own vaccination against pertussis. Because immunity decreases over time, women should receive the pertussis vaccine in the last trimester of each pregnancy.
Pertussis continues to spread across the nation. Disease rates and risks of hospitalization and death are highest for infants under the age of one. Pertussis can cause a severe, persistent cough. Historically, unvaccinated children with pertussis would cough hard enough to cause vomiting or a “whooping” breath after a coughing spell. Symptoms of pertussis vary widely by age and vaccination history. Young infants may not have typical pertussis symptoms and may not appear to cough. Instead, they may have difficulty breathing, episodes in which they stop breathing, or their faces turn purple.
For more information, please contact the Montgomery County Health Department at (910) 572-1393.