If You’re Pregnant And Haven’t Had A Whooping Cough Vaccine, You Need One

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pregnant-woman-getting-vaccineWhooping cough poses such a threat to infants that most health organizations recommend women receive a booster of the pertussis vaccine during pregnancy to bolster their baby’s chances of not contracting the illness. I received the vaccine with each of my pregnancies and didn’t think much of it, but after reading about what happened to one UK mom who didn’t get the shot, I know how fortunate I am to have been in the care of people who made it a priority.

According to Mirror, 40-year-old Hayley Drew is struggling to understand why she wasn’t offered a pertussis booster during her pregnancy after one of her four-week-old twins succumbed to the illness. Hayley was under the care of a midwife and says she made at least nine visits to her local hospital for routine appointments during her pregnancy, but was never offered the shot. In fact, she says she specifically asked her midwife if she needed it and the midwife told her the hospital doesn’t provide it.

Hayley gave birth to twin girls in August of last year. When the twins were four weeks old, one of them was rushed to the hospital after Hayley and her husband noticed the baby gasping for air and struggling to breathe. The infant was treated immediately, but within days doctors informed the parents there was nothing they could do to save her and she was taken off life support. Now, Hayley is working with an attorney to figure out why she wasn’t offered a pertussis vaccine and to hopefully change the policy to spare other parents what she went through. Says her husband:

“Words can’t describe the emotions that go through you when you lose your baby. It shouldn’t have happened. The vaccine could’ve prevented her death.”

The hospital says they’ve “implemented changes to ensure mums-to-be know how to get the jabs” but that doesn’t sound very promising. The problem wasn’t Hayley’s misunderstanding. It was her midwife and presumably other members of the staff who said the vaccine wasn’t provided and didn’t stress the importance of finding a way to get it.

I’m as pro-vaccine as one can be, but even I wouldn’t have known to get another pertussis shot during pregnancy if my OB hadn’t told me about it. That’s a big problem. I’m sure this mom has regrets, but what happened to her daughter is not her fault and could’ve easily happened to anyone. Doctors and midwives need to do everything they can to make sure pregnant women are receiving this booster, and there needs to be more awareness of these policy changes all around. We have the tools to give newborns the best possible chance to stay healthy. We need to make sure we’re using them.

(Photo:  / Shutterstock)