The Canterbury region has experienced an outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) with rates of disease 10 x greater than normal. Pertussis can cause severe disease in infants, and most of the children hospitalised with pertussis have been younger than 8 weeks of age. Most of these infants have not received their first infant immunisations, and therefore have no protection against pertussis.
If their mothers are vaccinated during pregnancy with Tdap vaccine (contains tetanus, diptheria and acellular pertussis components) this may provide some protection for them in the first few months of life.
To date, the safety of Tdap vaccination during pregnancy has not been systematically studied.
The purpose of the study is to collect data on any possible adverse events that may occur following vaccination with Tdap vaccination. This is done immediately following vaccination and at 4 weeks post vaccination. We will also collect information on the baby’s health at birth and monthly during the first year of life to see if they have been exposed to or had symptoms of pertussis.
The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) initially agreed to fund the administration of Tdap during the current pertussis outbreak to pregnant women who have not received a previous pertussis booster with Tdap. Since the study commenced the vaccination has become fully funded by the ministry of health for all pregnant women in New Zealand. It is hoped that our findings will support the ongoing safe use of Tdap vaccination in pregnancy and that the ministry will continue to provide funding for all woman in New Zealand.
Dr Tony Walls
Paediatric Infectious Diseases Specialist
University of Otago, Christchurch