Pertussis vaccine recommended during pregnancy under new guidelines

Adolescents and pregnant women should receive the tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccine, according to the new 2013 child/adolescent immunization schedule.

The new recommendations have been approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. The schedule was published in the Monday edition of Pediatrics, MedScape reports.

The schedule recommends that pregnant women receive the Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy to protect their infants.

"Clearly pertussis is back and we are in danger of losing control (of the disease)," H. Cody Meissner, a professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine, said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "People forget how bad pertussis can be."

The CDC reported more than 41,000 cases of pertussis in the U.S. in 2012, representing the highest number of cases in more than 50 years. The disease was linked to 18 deaths in 2012, most of them in infants younger than three months of age.

Sandra A. Fryhofer, a liaison to the CDC's ACIP, said that mothers who are vaccinated during pregnancy produce antibodies to pertussis and other bacteria that are passed on to babies prior to birth.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only approved Tdap for one-time use, but doctors do not need FDA approval to administer the vaccine multiple times.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is highly contagious and is spread through coughing and sneezing. The disease causes violent, persistent and rapid coughing followed by a tell-tale whooping sound when the infected person attempts to inhale.