Vaccination during pregnancy can protect both mother and baby. We recently wrote about the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)’s updated recommendations for flu vaccinations to help prevent infection in adults (and the spread of the virus to children). It’s also very important to talk about protecting your baby against pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough.
The Tdap vaccine protects against three serious illnesses – tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant women receive the Tdap vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks of each pregnancy, regardless of when they had their last Tdap booster shot. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Nurse-Midwives both support this recommendation. Babies do not receive the whooping cough vaccine (DTaP) until they are two months old. By getting the Tdap vaccine during your third trimester, you are passing along antibodies to your baby before birth to protect them during their first few months. The vaccine is safe for pregnant women and infants, and is not associated with any increased risks for autism in children, based on a study published in the August 2018 issue of Pediatrics. Speak with your doctor or midwife about getting the Tdap vaccine.
If you don’t get the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, you can get it before you leave the hospital or birth center. Burdett Birth Center offers the Tdap vaccine for new mothers. It is safe if you are breastfeeding.
Whooping cough is highly contagious and very common in the United States. When babies catch whooping cough, it can be very serious as their young immune systems are still developing. Infection can cause pneumonia, difficulty breathing and can result in hospitalization. Once a baby is two months old, the CDC recommends receiving the first dose of the whooping cough vaccine for children, known as DTaP. From there, the baby will receive the second dose at two months, third dose at six months and then the fourth doses between ages 15 and 18 months. Between ages four and six is when a child should receive the recommended fifth dose. The CDC provides a full chart of recommended immunization schedules for all children and adolescents aged 18 or younger.
For more information, please consult your provider and child’s pediatrician about which vaccinations are recommended for you and your child.