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Research supports whooping cough vaccination

Posted: 22 May 2014 by Julie Griffiths

Pregnant women should be vaccinated against whooping cough to protect newborns according to recommendations in new research.

vaccination Whooping Cough
Credit: Sciene Photo Library
The research, presented in Dublin at the Annual Meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases, has said that vaccinating pregnant women would protect newborn babies against whooping cough.

Since October 2012, vaccination against whooping cough has been recommended for all pregnant women in the UK to reduce cases in newborns, the group most vulnerable to complications and death.

Three pieces of research showed the extent that vaccination can save lives and money.

Research led by health economics analysis Dr Victoria Coles from Sanofi Pasteur MSD in Maidenhead found that hospital costs of the 2012-13 whooping cough epidemic in England cost an estimated £2.2m.

Patients under one year of age accounted for 85% of pertussis-related secondary care costs.

Other research presented at the conference showed the success of vaccinating pregnant women against whooping cough in Northern Ireland.

The study by Dr Julie Lewis, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, and Public Health agency colleagues found that confirmed cases of whooping cough in 2013 decreased 82% compared to 2012, following the introduction of maternal vaccination in October 2012.  

She said: ‘Infants less than three months showed a 94% decline as opposed to 77% in people aged over 15 years. This data supports maternal vaccination in preventing whooping cough in infants.’

 Similar findings came from data in Scotland that further supported the rollout of the vaccine.

The research by Dr Alison Smith-Palmer, Health Protection Scotland, found a reduction of around 85% in incidence among infants following a campaign to vaccinate pregnant women at 28 to 38 weeks’ gestation.

RCM director for midwifery Louise Silverton said vaccination for pregnant women to protect newborns against whooping cough had the organisation’s full support.
‘We encourage pregnant women to have the vaccine in the final trimester of pregnancy to protect themselves and their baby from the disease in the first weeks after it is born,’ she said.

Louise added: ‘There is a need to ensure pregnant women are aware of the seriousness of the infection and that they have all the information they need so that they can make an informed decision about whether to have the vaccine.’