Pertussis vaccine to be provincially funded

November 1, 2018

Over the past 10 years in Alberta, there have been approximately 60 cases of pertussis (also known as whooping cough) in infants less than two months of age. In three of those cases, the infant died.

Because of this, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and the Alberta Advisory Committee on Immunization (AACI) have recommended pregnant women be immunized with the dTap vaccine during every pregnancy with the following guidance:

  • One dose of dTap should be offered in every pregnancy ideally between 27 and 32 weeks of gestation (to maximize antibody transfer to the infant).
  • It may be provided from 13 weeks up to the time of delivery in view of programmatic and unique patient considerations (e.g., in case of increased risk of preterm delivery or travel).
  • If dTap immunization was provided at any time during pregnancy, including prior to 13 weeks gestation, it is not necessary to re-immunize.

The dTap vaccine has been shown to be safe in pregnancy. Infants less than two months of age are at the highest risk for pertussis complications. Immunization during pregnancy provides protection to infants until they are able to receive a pertussis-containing vaccine at two months of age.

Beginning January 1, 2019, Alberta Health will provincially fund dTap vaccine for pregnant women. The vaccine will be available through Alberta Health Services (AHS) Public Health and pharmacies across Alberta in a joint effort to make the vaccine widely accessible. Pregnant women who plan to access the vaccine at a pharmacy will need to get a prescription from an eligible prescriber, including pharmacists with additional prescribing authorization.

Additional information about the Alberta Immunization Policy can be found on the Alberta Health website.

If you have questions, please email health.imm@gov.ab.ca.


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