The incidence of pertussis (whooping cough) has risen dramatically in recent years reflecting the relative weak immunogenicity of the acellular vaccine compared with the prior whole-cell vaccine used prior to 1996. The vaccine is typically given as a combination known as Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis). To compensate for the reduced effectiveness of the acellular form, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) now recommends that adults and adolescents get booster shots to provide protection from infection. However, the booster has not lowered the incidence of the disease in neonates. The recommendation is supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) except for women who have been previously vaccinated.
The ACIP now recommends that all pregnant women receive a Tdap immunization during the third trimester of every pregnancy. The strategy is to protect the mother and prevent her transmitting an infection to her fetus and also to provide direct protection to the neonate after birth. Although the recommendation seems reasonable, further research is necessary to determine whether newborns will actually benefit and whether it is safe to administer Tdap routinely to pregnant women and whether it is safe to give repeatedly for subsequent pregnancies. It also seems reasonable to require fathers of newborns to have been immunized, but fathers are not specifically identified in the recommendation.
Britcher Leone & Roth has experience in representing individuals who have been hurt by vaccines in applying to the Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund. Injuries that last 6 months are compensable under a program administered by Special Masters in the Court of Federal Claims. Only a careful review of the medical facts can tell if a claim can be filed. There is a 3 year time limit from the date the vaccination was administered to file a claim with the fund.