Tdap Vaccine for Pregnant Women

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On this page:
What is Tdap?
What are the dangers of pertussis?
How effective is Tdap?
How does Tdap protect newborns?
When should I get Tdap?
What if I'm not due for a tetanus booster?
Can I wait and get Tdap after I deliver?
Should babies be vaccinated against pertussis?
Is Tdap vaccine safe?
Is Tdap covered by my insurance?

What is Tdap?

Tdap is a booster vaccine against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Protecting mothers and babies against pertussis is a high priority because pertussis has become increasingly common in Minnesota over the last few years and it can be life-threatening or even fatal to infants.

What are the dangers of pertussis?

It causes violent coughing attacks that keep recurring for weeks or months: in fact, the disease used to be known as "the 100-day cough." Adults with pertussis may experience vomiting, incontinence, or rib fractures because of the force of the coughing. Infants may stop breathing entirely.

How effective is Tdap?

It prevents most cases of pertussis, but not every case. Some people may still get pertussis even after being vaccinated, but they will have less severe symptoms and are less likely to infect others.

How does Tdap protect newborns?

Getting Tdap during pregnancy makes it less likely that you will have pertussis during the time when your baby is most at risk. It is also likely to provide immunity to the baby, since the protective antibodies your body makes in response to the vaccine will be shared with the baby. However, because it's not guaranteed that these antibodies will be enough to fully protect the baby, every teenager or adult who will spend time around the baby should get Tdap too.

When should I get Tdap?

Between 27 and 36 weeks' gestation.

What if I’m not due for a tetanus booster?

The recommendation for Tdap applies even if you had a tetanus booster or Tdap before becoming pregnant. You have the most pertussis antibodies to share with your baby in the first months after you receive the vaccine.

Can I wait and get Tdap after I deliver?

If you wait, you won’t be protected for about two weeks after the baby is born, and it’s possible you could get pertussis during that time and pass it to the baby. Also, getting vaccinated after delivery doesn't provide any antibody protection to the baby. However, if that’s what you choose, it’s fine to get Tdap while breastfeeding.

Should babies be vaccinated against pertussis?

Yes, they should, but they need a series of three doses at 2, 4, and 6 months to build up initial immunity. After that, additional doses are given in childhood and throughout life.

Is Tdap vaccine safe?

Most side effects of Tdap vaccination are mild enough that they don't require medical attention. The most common are pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site. Severe injection site reactions and allergic reactions are rare.

Talk to your health care provider about your personal risk if any of the following are true:

  • You had a severe reaction to any vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, and/or pertussis in the past
  • You have a nervous system condition, including unstable epilepsy
  • You have had Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • You had severe swelling or severe pain after a previous tetanus vaccination
  • You are moderately to severely ill at the time of your visit

Is Tdap covered by my insurance?

Most insurance plans provide full coverage for Tdap and other vaccines, but you can check by calling the customer service number on the back of your insurance card. You may want to verify that it will be covered if given by your prenatal care provider, if this is different from your usual primary care provider.

Updated Wednesday, 16-Apr-2014 09:53:06 CDT