DALLAS, Texas – When Annie Muller had her first baby, Riyanna, 17 years ago, the danger of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, was more remote.
Now, the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending a whooping cough booster in the second half of pregnancy to protect the unvaccinated newborn from the growing problem.
A booster is recommended for each pregnancy.
"I guess the idea is to do it while you're pregnant so the antibodies build up and get to the baby before they come out," Muller said. "None of my children have had whooping cough, so maybe it's working out on all levels."
Muller is a mother of seven. Her last three children received the pertussis vaccine, but only the last two got the booster shots while she was pregnant with them.
Current levels of vaccinations in adults are low, according to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. A pertussis booster is encouraged for anyone who comes into contact with a newborn. Infants typically receive their first vaccinations when they're two months old.
The CDC and AAP are also officially advising against separating, spacing out or delaying child vaccinations. Despite assurances that vaccines are safe, many parents have decided to forgo or delay vaccines for their children.
"So the vaccine schedule that the CDC put out has been studied," said Dallas pediatrician Dr. Karen McClard. "They know that when you get these vaccines that your body is going to react this way. And so when you split them up, you come in at different times and you don't get the same vaccines at the same time, they're not sure if you're going to get the same immunity if you spread them out and sort of just pick vaccines out of a hat and decide when to give them."
McClard said the recommendations should reassure parents that vaccines protect children of all ages.
The new vaccine scheduled for children has been consolidated from two lists into one that spans 0-to-18 years of age.
Another change in the guidelines affect adults with compromised immune systems older than 19. The CDC recommends a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, called the "PCV-13," to help guard against pneumonia and other diseases caused by pneumococcal bacteria.