CDC recommends whooping cough vaccine for pregnant women

An advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that pregnant women be vaccinated against whooping cough in the late second or third trimester.

This changes the previous recommendation to wait until immediately after women give birth, MSNBC reports. The panel also recommended that adults and teens in close contact with newborns receive a single dose of the vaccine if they have not previously received it to form a "cocoon" of immunity to protect newborns until they can get vaccinated.

In addition, the panel recommended that a vaccine against meningitis, a life-threatening bacterial infection, be given to high-risk infants when they reach the age of nine months.

By vaccinating pregnant women against whooping cough, also known as pertussis, the women may pass the antibodies against the disease to the fetus, giving it protection at birth, MSNBC reports.

There were 17,000 whooping cough cases reported in the United States in 2009, compared with 13,000 the year before, according to the CDC. There were 10,000 cases in California last year, resulting in 10 infant deaths. Only six percent of adults living with young children were vaccinated.

Infants younger than six months are the most at risk from dying from pertussis. They should receive vaccinations for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis at two, four and six months.