THURSDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Infants 2 years old and younger cannot be vaccinated against pertussis, so other strategies are needed to protect this age group from the potentially fatal condition; therefore, tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis (Tdap) booster vaccines are being recommended for those who have close contact with infants, according to a report published in the Oct. 21 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Since 2005, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended Tdap booster vaccinations to unvaccinated postpartum mothers along with cocooning programs (i.e., vaccinating family members of newborns) to reduce the rate of pertussis-associated infant death, but cocooning programs have had limited success in vaccinating fathers and other family members.
In June of 2011, the ACIP presented updated recommendations on the use of Tdap in unvaccinated pregnant women and cocooning. They recommend administration of Tdap vaccination to previously unvaccinated pregnant women after 20 weeks' gestation or immediately postpartum, and that family members who will have close contact with the newborn also receive a Tdap dose if they have not received one previously.
"These updated recommendations on use of Tdap in pregnant women are consistent with the goal of reducing the burden of pertussis in infants," the authors write.