Evidence around the timing of pertussis vaccination in pregnancy has recently been reviewed and the pertussis-containing vaccine is now recommended as a single dose between 20 and 32 weeks in each pregnancy, including pregnancies that are closely spaced to provide maximal protection to each infant. This advice is reflected in the Australian Immunisation Handbook at www.immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au.
Maternal antibodies against pertussis provide protection to babies until they have received at least two doses of pertussis containing vaccines (at six weeks and four months of age). Babies less than six months of age are at greatest risk of severe disease and death from pertussis.
The most important factor associated with uptake of vaccination during pregnancy is a healthcare provider recommendation. Please take all opportunities to speak to your pregnant patients and their partners about the importance of getting vaccinated against pertussis during pregnancy.
The pertussis-containing vaccine is provided free to pregnant women through the National Immunisation Program to protect both pregnant women and their babies from pertussis and its complications.
More information for healthcare providers, including a clinical advice fact sheet and promotional materials is available at www.health.gov.au/immunisation, or see the “Pertussis Vaccine for Pregnant and Post-Partum Women” HealthPathway.