After a record-setting number of whooping cough cases, Washington health officials are advising pregnant women and people who are around infants to get vaccinated for the highly contagious disease.
In 2011, there were 912 cases of the disease in Washington state, the highest number in six years.
State health officials recommend that women who plan to become pregnant should get vaccinated again for the disease, because the vaccine usually wears off in five years.
Women who are already pregnant should wait until after 20 weeks’ gestation; the waiting time is precautionary for newly pregnant women, although the vaccine is considered safe, said Michele Roberts, health promotion manager for the Washington State Health Department’s office of immunization. Pregnant women who have been vaccinated pass some protection on to the fetus.
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Babies get a series of four vaccines against pertussis, or whooping cough, starting at 1 months and ending on their 1st birthday. Because they don’t develop full immunity from the disease until they are 1 year old, it’s important for them to gain some immunity from their mothers before they are born.