(RxWiki News) Decisions about vaccine policies are made throughout the year by a group of experts and researchers. They met recently to discuss current issues with diseases and to make recommendations.
The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) met October 24-25, 2012. They made recommendations related to the pertussis vaccine for pregnant women and a meningitis vaccine for children.
"Follow the CDC schedule for vaccines."
Pregnant women are now advised to receive the Tdap vaccine every time they become pregnant, regardless of the last time they had the shot. The recommendation was voted by ACIP 14 to 0 with one person abstaining.
The Tdap protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, also called whooping cough.
While the tetanus and diphtheria are less of a problem, there has been a very large outbreak of pertussis in the US this year.
"Largely due to waning immunity associated with the acellular pertussis vaccine, the United States is currently experiencing a nationwide outbreak of pertussis," Paul Offit, MD, told dailyRx. Offit, the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, is a member of the ACIP committee.
The cases of whooping cough are the highest they have been in several decades. Over 32,000 cases have been reported in the past year and a half.
"But those numbers are likely just the tip of the iceberg," Dr. Offit said. "This recommendation is made because immunity following Tdap can fade fairly rapidly."
Previously, pregnant women were only recommended to get the Tdap vaccine if they had not received it previously.
"By getting Tdap during pregnancy, maternal pertussis antibodies transfer to the newborn, likely providing protection against pertussis in early life, before the baby starts getting DTaP vaccines," the ACIP committee stated.
The DTaP is the vaccine that gives babies protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. However, it is not given until two months old, and the 16 deaths from pertussis this year have all been in children under two months old.
Normally, the Tdap vaccine is recommended every ten years for adults. The change was made to offer better protection to babies in the midst of increasing pertussis cases in the US. It is safe to receive the vaccine more than once within ten years.
"Tdap will also protect the mother at the time of delivery, making her less likely to transmit pertussis to her infant," the ACIP committee stated. "If not vaccinated during pregnancy, Tdap should be given immediately postpartum, before leaving the hospital or birthing center."
The other recommendation made by the ACIP committee, with a vote of 13 to 1 and one person abstaining, was children at higher risk for contracting meningitis should receive four doses of the HibMenCY vaccine.
They should receive it at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and between 12 and 15 months old.
Infants at a higher risk for meningitis, or meningococcal disease, include those with sickle cell disease, other conditions related to poor spleen functioning and other specific conditions. Ask your pediatrician if your child is at risk and requires the vaccine.
This disease is rare but can be fatal. The strains of meningitis this vaccine protects against are different from the meningitis cases currently related to compounding pharmacy injections.