Immunisation of health professionals during whooping cough outbreaks.
Immunisation of health professionals during whooping cough outbreaks
Immunisation of health professionals was considered by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) as part of a range of control options during the 2012 whooping cough outbreak. The committee agreed that the first priority was to optimise protection in children too young to be vaccinated by offering a pertussis containing booster to pregnant women (originally between 28 to 38 weeks) as an outbreak response measure. In June 2014 JCVI recommended that the programme should continue for a further 5 years and from 1 April 2016 the recommended gestational age for vaccination was revised to between 20 and 32 weeks but can be given as early as 16 weeks.
The committee agreed that certain healthcare workers could become infected with pertussis and pass the infection on to neonates and young infants. Post exposure vaccination of healthcare workers in high risk settings is recommended as part of the control of a known outbreak. See ‘PHE Guidelines for the Public Health Management of Pertussis Incidents in Healthcare Settings’.
Due to limited supplies, current Department of Health stocks of dTaP/IPV vaccine should be prioritised for the temporary maternal immunisation programme (currently Boostrix-IPV) and the routine childhood vaccination programme (pre-school booster, currently Infanrix-IPV or Repevax) and should not be used for local outbreak control. In the event of such incidents, any NHS or non NHS organisation advising post exposure vaccination for their healthcare staff will have to procure vaccine directly from the manufacturer.
Currently, proactive vaccination of health professionals is not advocated due to the limited supplies of the vaccine, however, this is under review.
Information for healthcare workers exposed to whooping cough
Exposure in a healthcare setting
The PHE Guidelines for the Public Health Management of Pertussis Incidents in Healthcare Settings has been revised in line with the national guidelines.