ATLANTA, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Women who are pregnant are advised to get vaccinated with the Tdap vaccine against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, U.S. health officials say.
In 2010, there were 27,550 cases of pertussis -- whooping cough -- reported in the United States, a disease that is highly contagious and can cause serious or prolonged illness, health officials said.
Infants, especially those too young to be vaccinated, are at greatest risk for serious illness and death, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
"However, a woman vaccinated with Tdap during pregnancy will pass on maternal pertussis antibodies to her baby which may provide protection against pertussis in early life, before the infant begins the primary tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, series," the report said. "The vaccine will also protect the mother at time of delivery, making her less likely to transmit pertussis to her infant."
Other family members and close contacts including parents, siblings, grandparents should make sure they are vaccinated at least two weeks before contact with the infant, health officials said.
The report is published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.