Pertussis program expanded in Central Alberta

Pregnant women in third trimester offered pertussis vaccine

  • Nov. 1, 2016 3:58 p.m.

Due to sustained high rates of pertussis in Alberta Health Services (AHS) Central Zone, AHS is expanding the routine pertussis immunization program in the Zone – as of today – by offering pertussis vaccine to women in their third trimester of each pregnancy, regardless of previous pertussis immunization.

Offering vaccine to women in the third trimester of pregnancy is an important step in protecting infants, who are the most vulnerable to developing severe complications from pertussis.

“The rates of pertussis we’re seeing in Central Zone at this time suggest there is a greater than normal risk of pertussis, especially for unimmunized individuals,” said Dr. Digby Horne, Medical Officer of Health, Central Zone. “Immunization is not only safe and protective for pregnant women, it provides immunity to their infants after birth, protecting these infants before they’re old enough to be immunized themselves.”

Women in Central Zone who are 26 or more weeks pregnant are encouraged to call their local community health centre (public health) to book an appointment for this immunization. Some physician and obstetrician offices may also offer pertussis vaccine to these women; however, patients should call ahead to confirm availability. Please note that pertussis vaccine will not be offered through influenza immunization clinics that are currently underway.

As always, AHS encourages all caregivers and family members of young infants to ensure they are up-to-date on all vaccines. Parents should also ensure their children are fully immunized, for their age, according to the routine childhood immunization schedule.

Pertussis is a bacterial infection that causes severe coughing that lasts for weeks and can lead to pneumonia, convulsions, brain damage and even death. Approximately two-thirds of the pertussis cases confirmed to date in the Central Zone involved individuals who were unimmunized or under-immunized for their age.

“We know that rates of pertussis immunization in Central Zone are lower than other Zones of AHS,” said Horne. “We all play a part in protecting each other. Please get immunized.”

For more information on pertussis disease, visit

– Fawcett