Tdap Vaccine (Whooping Cough)

Did you know that nearly half of babies younger than one-year-old with whooping cough end up in the hospital, and up to 20 babies die each year in the United States? The younger the baby is when he or she gets whooping cough, the more likely he or she will need to be treated in a hospital.

People with whooping cough usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others. Parents, older siblings, and other family members/caregivers can give whooping cough to babies without even knowing they have the disease.

Whooping cough can cause uncontrollable, violent coughing that often makes it hard to breathe. After coughing, a person with whooping cough often needs to take deep breaths, which results in a “whooping” sound.

Sometimes it is hard to know if your child has whooping cough because some babies with the disease don’t cough at all. Instead, whooping cough causes them to stop breathing and turn blue.

Hear how whooping cough sounds in a child.

To best protect both you and your baby from whooping cough, the CDC recommends that you receive a Tdap vaccine during your 27th through 36th week (in the 3rd trimester) of each pregnancy, preferably during the earlier part of this time period. This immunization recommendation for pregnant women is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM).

By getting vaccinated with the Tdap vaccine during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, your body makes protective antibodies (immunity) and passes some of them 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 you from whooping cough during delivery and makes you less likely to pass the serious disease to your newborn.

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 (children, teens and adults), and caregivers to make sure they are up-to-date on their whooping cough vaccination (DTaP for children; Tdap for preteens, teens and adults), at least two weeks before meeting the new baby.

Read the emotional real-life stories of parents who lost their children to pertussis on our Personal Stories page. We are forever grateful to these families for sharing their stories and advocating for Tdap vaccination during pregnancy, which was not yet available to them at the time of their loss.

Download and share Vaccinate Your Family’s educational handout – Vaccines and Pregnancy.


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