GPs advised to vaccinate pregnant women against whooping cough

Pregnant women should be vaccinated against whooping cough (pertussis), the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has agreed.

The pertussis vaccine can be given at the same time as the influenza vaccine, but influenza immunisation should not be delayed to be given alongside the pertussis vaccine | SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The pertussis vaccine can be given at the same time as the influenza vaccine, but influenza immunisation should not be delayed to be given alongside the pertussis vaccine | SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

The committee’s recommendations state that a single dose of Repevax (dTaP/IPV) should be given between weeks 28 and 38 of pregnancy (ideally during weeks 28–32) to protect babies until they can be vaccinated at two months of age. The vaccine may be administered up until the onset of labour and should also be offered to new mothers who are not immunised against pertussis.

Off-label use

Physicians should note that these recommendations differ from the SPC for Repevax but the JCVI says that it has "no concerns about the safety of use of this vaccine at any stage in pregnancy". A similar vaccine is already given to pregnant women in the US.

The recommendation has been issued in response to the ongoing pertussis outbreak in the UK, which has resulted in a number of fatalities in infants.

Repevax only

To ensure access to pertussis-containing vaccines for both the prenatal and childhood vaccination programmes, the Department of Health has specified that Repevax should only be used for vaccination in pregnancy and Infanrix-IPV should only be used for booster vaccinations in preschool children. For further guidance on routine childhood immunisation, see the MIMS table.

Further information about the whooping cough vaccination programme for pregnant women

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