FDA approves shot during pregnancy to prevent whooping cough in babies

The FDA headquarters sign in White Oak, Maryland, on August 29, 2020.

By Andrew Kelly, Reuters

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration gave its blessing to a vaccination that can be given to pregnant women in the third trimester to protect their unborn children from whooping cough.

GlaxoSmithKline produces the Boostrix vaccination. Dr. Peter Marks, the FDA’s chief vaccine official, has stated that this vaccine is the first of its kind to be licenced for use in pregnant women to protect their unborn children against disease.

The FDA reviewed evidence showing that giving the vaccine to pregnant women during the third trimester reduced the risk of whooping cough in their newborns by 78%. None of the pregnant women, their babies, or the newborns experienced any negative consequences.

Sensitivity at the injection site, headaches, and tiredness are the most commonly reported adverse reactions to the immunisation.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can have devastating effects on infants. Vaccination against the disease is routine for children, but it does not provide protection for infants younger than two months.

Pregnant women can safeguard their unborn children by receiving the immunisation. Although anyone can have whooping cough, the most vulnerable population is newborns fewer than two months old, as reported by the Food and Drug Administration.

Boostrix was already cleared by the FDA for use during pregnancy to protect the mother, but it had not yet been cleared to prevent whooping cough in infants. In 2005, the vaccine was given the go light to protect those between the ages of 10 and 18, and in 2010, it was expanded to include those 19 and older as well.

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