The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made the recommendation as the nation braces for a record number of pertussis cases.
More than 32,000 cases have already been reported with 16 deaths. The majority of deaths were infants who are particularly vulnerable to the highly contagious virus, which causes uncontrollable coughing fits.
Tdap is the booster shot given to preteens and adults to protect against pertussis. Infants and children receive a different vaccine, DTaP, but protection wanes as kids get older.
Health leaders say mothers are often the ones who usually infect their babies. In cases where the source of whooping cough was identified, mothers were responsible for 30 to 40 percent of infant infections, according to one study of infant pertussis cases.
The recommendation builds upon an earlier guideline from the CDC that called for pregnant women to receive a dose of Tdap if they had not already had it.
The new recommendation also states that if a woman is not vaccinated during her pregnancy, Tdap should be administered immediately after giving birth.
Receiving the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy can help protect infants from getting whooping cough before they are old enough to be vaccinated. Tdap also protects the mother when she gives birth, making her less likely to transmit the virus to her infant.
More than half of all babies infected with pertussis need to be hospitalized. The most common complication is bacterial pneumonia. In serious cases, whooping cough can cause brain damage, bleeding behind the eyes and in the brain from coughing, and death.
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