Tdap vaccine for expectant mothers

Tdap during pregnancy passes protection to your baby

The Tdap vaccine is used for protection against the whooping cough, a serious disease that can be deadly for babies. Unfortunately, babies do not start building their own protection against whooping cough until they begin vaccinations at two months old. Avoid this gap in protection by getting the Tdap vaccine during the third trimester of your pregnancy. By doing so, you pass high levels of antibodies to your baby before birth. These antibodies help protect your baby against whooping cough in the first months of life. (CDC Rec.)

What happens after receiveing the Tdap?

CDC Recommendations

Your body creates protective antibodies and passes some of them to your baby before birth providing your baby with some short-term protection against whooping cough in early life. These antibodies can also protect your baby from some of the more serious complications, including hospitalization, that comes along with whooping cough.

When women get a Tdap vaccine while pregnant, their babies have better protection against whooping cough than babies whose mothers did not get vaccinated during pregnancy. Getting Tdap between 27 through 36 weeks of pregnancy is 78% more effective at preventing whooping cough in babies younger than 2 months old.

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Frequently Asked Questions


Tdap is safe for expectant mothers and their babies. You will not get whooping cough in result of getting the vaccine and it will not put you at an increased risk of pregnancy complications.


You can pass antibodies that you made to your baby with breastfeeding. Antibodies will be present in your breast milk if you have received the Tdap vaccine during your pregnancy. It takes 2 weeks for your body to produce protective antibodies if you choose to not get the Tdap vaccine.


Mild side effects may occur after receiving the Tdap vaccine while severe side effects are extremely rare. Mild side effects experienced include: Redness, swelling, pain and tenderness where the shot was done, body aches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache, and fever.

CDC Answers Patient Questions

CWC Supported

Is whooping cough an issue anymore?

We used to think of whooping cough as a disease of the past, but it’s still common in the U.S.  In recent years, we’ve had between 10,000 and 50,000 reported cases of whooping cough each year in the United States. In fact, there are cases reported in every state. Whooping cough is on the rise in the United States. Recently, we saw the most cases we had seen in 60 years.

Do you think your patients should get this vaccine while pregnant?

I strongly believe in the importance and benefits of the whooping cough vaccine, which is why I recommend it to all my patients early in the third trimester. It’s the most important thing we can do to help protect your newborn from this deadly disease.

Why is whooping cough a concern for my baby?

Whooping cough is more serious for babies than other common coughing illnesses like croup. In fact, many babies with whooping cough don’t cough at all, which can make it hard for you to even tell if your baby has whooping cough. Instead, it can cause them to stop breathing. About half of babies younger than 1 year old who get whooping cough need treatment in a hospital. Since 2010, up to 20 babies have died each year in the United States. Most whooping cough deaths are among babies who are too young to be protected by their own vaccination, which begins at 2 months of age.

Wouldn’t I know if someone around my baby has whooping cough?

Some people with whooping cough may just have a mild cough or what seems like a common cold, especially if they have been previously vaccinated. Since symptoms can vary, children and adults may not know they have whooping cough and can end up spreading it to babies that they are in close contact with.

I got the vaccine with my last pregnancy. Why do I need it again?

The amount of whooping cough antibodies in your body is greatest about 2 weeks after getting the vaccine. However, those antibody levels decrease over time. It is important for you to get a whooping cough vaccine during each pregnancy so that each of your babies get the greatest number of protective antibodies from you and the best protection possible against this disease.

What is cocooning?

Babies younger than 6 months old are more likely to develop certain infectious diseases than older children. Cocooning is a way to protect babies from catching diseases from the people around them – people like their parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, child-care providers, babysitters, and healthcare providers. Once these people are vaccinated, they are less likely to spread these contagious diseases to the baby. They surround the baby with a cocoon of protection against disease until he or she is old enough to get all the doses of vaccine needed to be fully protected. (Source: Immunization Action Coalition).

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