Tdap Vaccine for Pregnant Women: What You Should Know

May 7, 2013

What is Pertussis?                                                                                                                   Pertussis (sometimes called “Whooping cough”) is a very serious and highly contagious respiratory infection (in the lungs and breathing tubes) caused by the Pertussis bacteria. It causes violent coughing you may not be able to stop. Pertussis is most harmful for young babies and can be deadly.

How common is Pertussis?                                                                                                   In 2012, more than 41,000 cases of Pertussis were reported, with 18 Pertussis-related deaths. The majority of deaths occur among infants younger than three months of age.

Why should I get Tdap?                                                                                                       Given in the third trimester of pregnancy, Tdap not only protects you, but also provides your baby with passive immunity to Pertussis at birth. Without this protection, infants are not protected at all until they receive their first vaccine at two months old and are not fully protected until six months old, when they have received three doses of the vaccine.  

When should I get Tdap?                                                                                                       The Tdap (Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis) vaccine should be given in the third trimester of pregnancy, every time you are pregnant, even if you received Tdap in the past.

Who is recommending that I get Tdap?                                                                                                                                      Your doctor recommends you receive Tdap based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Is it safe to get Tdap while I am pregnant?                                                                                                                                    There is no known harm to you or your baby from receiving the Tdap vaccine, and recent safety data on the use of Tdap in pregnancy has been reassuring. Both tetanus and diphtheria vaccines have been used extensively in pregnant women worldwide since the 1960s.

What if I decide not to receive the vaccine while I am pregnant?
Vaccination during pregnancy provides ideal protection for your baby. However, if you choose not to receive Tdap while pregnant, it will be offered to you again in the hospital after delivery. It is safe to receive the Tdap vaccine while breastfeeding.

What else can I do to protect my baby?
Encourage your baby’s dad, grandparents, older siblings and other caregivers to get vaccinated with Tdap at least two weeks before coming into contact with your newborn.