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Tdap Vaccine in Pregnancy

As we discussed last month regarding the flu vaccine, newborns are very vulnerable to respiratory illness until they are able to receive their own vaccinations. Pertussis (also known as whooping cough) is a highly contagious respiratory illness. Early symptoms are fever, runny nose, and mild cough, which usually last 1 to 2 weeks. Later stage symptoms include fits of coughing follow by a high pitched “whoop” sound, vomiting after coughing, and exhaustion. Pertussis symptoms can last up to 4 months. The highest rate of complications related to a pertussis infection occurs in infants 3 months old and younger due to their narrow windpipe making breathing difficult with coughing. Infants can contract pertussis from family members, caregivers, and anyone else that they meet. Infants do not begin their own vaccine series to protect against pertussis until 2 months of age.

The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. As with the flu vaccine, this vaccine consists of an inactive form of the viruses, making it safe in pregnancy. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend pregnant women receive this vaccine each pregnancy regardless of previous vaccination. Ideal timing is between 27 and 36 weeks. This allows for adequate maternal antibody response and transfer to your baby. The vaccine can be given outside of this timeframe for wound management, pertussis outbreak, or other extenuating circumstances.

Along with mothers, it is recommended that adolescents, adult family members, and caregivers who have not received the Tdap vaccine also receive the vaccine at least 2 weeks before coming in contact with baby. Feel free to call our office today to obtain yours or your family member’s vaccination.

Brian A Levitt, MD

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