The following is a news analysis.
CDC is heavily promoting whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine that includes tetanus and diptheria vaccines for pregnant women in order to protect their future newborns, even though the disease is not a major health threat to infants in the US. Public health officials promote frightening statistics that can make it sound as if many babies are dying of whooping cough in order to sell a vaccine that a majority of pregnant women are not choosing to take.
An example of statistics that are promoted but that can be misleading is: "Tdap vaccination during pregnancy prevents whooping cough in about three-quarters of newborns." To a layperson, that could seem to imply whooping cough is common in newborns and that the vaccine prevents whooping cough in 3/4 of infants. In fact, the number of babies who die of whooping cough in the US per year is estimated at between five and 15 in recent years. According to the statistics, one in four of those rare deaths occur in infants whose mom had gotten vaccinated with Tdap while pregnant. So the vaccine is being promoted for millions upon millions of pregnant women to allegedly prevent two to 11 deaths.
On the one hand, it may seem reasonable to give medicine to millions of women to prevent even a single infant death, but the vaccine-- like all medicine--has side effects. Side effects of Tdap vaccination can include Guillain Barre paralysis, encephalopathy (brain damage), and aggravation of neurological conditions. However, CDC information promoting vaccines rarely if ever discloses those risks, let alone balances them against the supposed benefits. Additionally, many medical advisers that publicize information on behalf of vaccine interests, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynetologists, mistakenly advise "all pregnant women" should get the Tdap vaccine. That's despite the fact that this recommendation can kill since the vaccine can be dangerous or deadly for some. "Contraindications" are listed on the label.
The following information is from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
A CDC study published today provides further evidence that Tdap vaccination during pregnancy helps protect newborns from whooping cough during their first two months of life, when they are most vulnerable to the disease.
Whooping cough, or pertussis, is highly contagious and can be especially serious for infants who aren’t old enough to be vaccinated. CDC scientists tracked reports of infant whooping cough cases between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2019. They found an association between reduced rates of whooping cough in newborns younger than two months old and Tdap vaccination during pregnancy. These findings further support CDC’s recommendation for Tdap vaccination during weeks 27–36 of each pregnancy.
“Getting Tdap during pregnancy offers infants the best protection before they are old enough to receive their whooping cough vaccines,” said Dr. José Romero, Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “This protection is critical because those first few months are when infants are most likely to have serious complications, be hospitalized or die if they get whooping cough.”
The new study is the first time researchers have looked at U.S. population level trends in infant whooping cough cases since this maternal vaccination strategy began in 2011. Newborn whooping cough rates decreased significantly since the introduction of maternal Tdap vaccination. When given during the third trimester of pregnancy, Tdap vaccination prevents more than three in four cases of whooping cough in infants younger than two months old.
“Everyone who is pregnant should feel confident in knowing that the Tdap vaccine is safe and effective,” said Dr. Linda Eckert, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ liaison to CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. “Knowing that Tdap vaccination during pregnancy protects nine in 10 babies from being hospitalized with whooping cough, I strongly recommend this vaccine to all my pregnant patients for their peace of mind and for their family’s health and well-being.”
Women should get vaccinated during the third trimester of each pregnancy to boost their antibodies and pass those antibodies on to their infants. All people in close contact with infants should be up to date with their whooping cough vaccines.
CDC and partners are working to increase Tdap vaccination during pregnancy, which dropped during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Visit the CDC whooping cough website for more information.
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