Pertussis (also known as whooping cough) outbreaks are occurring across the United States. It is a very contagious disease that can cause babies to have coughing fits, gasp for air, and turn blue from lack of oxygen. It can even be deadly. It’s particularly dangerous for infants less than three months of age.
To best protect both you and your baby from whooping cough, the CDC recommends that you receive a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine during every pregnancy. You should get the vaccine during your 3rd trimester, as early as possible between the 27th and 36th week of pregnancy.
By getting vaccinated during pregnancy, your body makes antibodies to pass on to your baby so he is born with protection against whooping cough. These antibodies will help your baby until he is able to begin his own series of whooping cough vaccinations (DTaP) at 2 months of age. Tdap vaccine also protects mothers during delivery, makes them less likely to transmit whooping cough to their newborn. This recommendation is supported by The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) and The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM).
The Tdap vaccine is safe for both you and your baby. If you are unable to get the Tdap vaccination while pregnant, get the vaccine immediately after giving birth. To help provide your baby with additional protection against whooping cough, ask your friends, family members (adolescents and adults), and caregivers to make sure they are up to date on their Tdap vaccination, at least two weeks before meeting the new baby.
The Vaccinate Your Family program of Every Child By Two was inspired by the advocacy of several families who lost their precious infants to pertussis (Read their stories here and here). We are forever grateful to each of them for sharing their stories and advocating for Tdap vaccine in pregnancy, which was not yet available to them at the time of their loss.