Whooping cough is on the rise in the United States, with about 32,000 cases reported last year. Of those, 16 people died. There’s been a vaccine in place for whooping cough for quite a while and, while incidences are lower than they were half a century ago these numbers represent an increase.
One of the natural questions a woman has during pregnancy is whether or not she should be vaccinated against specific illnesses like whooping cough. There have been a number of concerns raised about vaccines in general, and whether they’re safe during pregnancy. Of particular concern has been the worry that vaccines might be related to autism.
Let’s take a look at what we actually know about the whooping cough vaccine and pregnancy:
- The whooping cough vaccine has been around for a long time. The version used today is acellular, which reduces the risks that may be associated with the former version of the vaccine.
- Some people claim that vaccines increase risks of autism. At this point, there is no scientific evidence that backs up this claim.
- The risk of dying from whooping cough and thereby causing your pregnancy to terminate is usually considered greater than the risks associated with having the vaccine.
- The whooping cough vaccine is recommended to all pregnant women. This is the only vaccine – apart from the influenza vaccine – that has specifically been recommended to pregnant women.
- When a mother is at increased risk of coming down with whooping cough, her baby is at a much greater risk of miscarriage or of getting a very serious infection.
- The people most at risk for complications from whooping cough include children of school age and adults who have never received the vaccine, as well as adults that are at a risk of complications due to whooping cough because of other health concerns.
- It is hoped that the whooping cough vaccine will eventually lead to a “herd immunity” where around 80% of the population has received the vaccine and the disease is, for all practical purposes, wiped out.