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CDC to Pregnant Women: Get Whooping Cough Vaccine

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Meissner, who also is chief of pediatric infectious disease at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, said that children in this age group don't yet have protection from vaccines. Since the vaccine crosses through the placenta, an immunization given later in the pregnancy should offer a high level of immunity to the baby.

He added that it's also a good idea for anyone who will be around the baby, including the father, siblings and grandparents, to be sure they're up to date on their vaccines.

Another expert said the resurgence of whooping cough is most likely due to a change in vaccine design that got rid of many side effects, but did so at the cost of long-term effectiveness.

Dr. Lorry Rubin, director of pediatric infectious diseases at the Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, in New Hyde Park, said the current vaccines don't last as long as would be ideal.

Rubin, who also is a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that develops vaccination guidelines, discussed the new idea in the guidelines that people who have mild egg allergies can still get a flu shot.

"If you have a localized reaction to eggs, meaning hives, and not a systemic reaction, like tongue swelling or wheezing, the flu vaccine should be very well tolerated," said Rubin, who added that it's important to have the immunization done at a doctor's office, where immediate care can be provided if a serious reaction does occur.

Rubin also said it's not too late to get a flu shot this year. Although there already has been one peak in flu activity, he said that in most flu seasons there are two peaks. If you get vaccinated now, you can protect yourself against a second spike in flu activity. He also noted that there will be a change in next year's flu vaccine that should make it more effective.

The other big change in the vaccine schedule is for adults aged 19 or older who are at high risk for pneumococcal infections, including people with compromised immune systems, people without a functioning spleen, those with cerebrospinal fluid leaks and people with ear implants. They should be given vaccines known as "PCV-13" followed by the "PPSV23" at least eight weeks later, the guidelines recommended. Rubin said the first vaccine helps prime the immune system for the second vaccine.

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