November 2, 2016 2:58 pm

Alberta now offering pregnant women in central zone whooping cough vaccine

Vaccine used to treat whooping cough among other infections in the fetus of pregnant women.

Alexa MacLean / Global News
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RED DEER, Alta. – Continuing high rates of whooping cough have prompted Alberta Health Services to expand its immunization program in the central part of the province.

The pertussis vaccine is now being offered in the Central Zone to all women in the third trimester of pregnancy, regardless of prior inoculation.

AHS officials say it’s an important step in protecting infants who are the most vulnerable to developing severe complications from whooping cough.

Dr. Digby Horne, medical officer of health for the central zone, says the vaccine is safe and protective for pregnant women and shields babies before they’re old enough to be immunized themselves.

Women who are 26 weeks or more along in their pregnancy are asked to call their local community health centre to book an appointment.

Pertussis is a bacterial infection which causes severe coughing that can last for weeks and lead to pneumonia, convulsions, brain damage and death.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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