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December 17, 2018

Ask the Doctor | Why your family needs the TDAP vaccine

By Jill Hechtman, MD

You hear so much about the flu vaccine this time of year, it time to talk about one that is just as important! The Tdap vaccine. Tdap is the Whooping Cough vaccine. Whooping cough, also known as Pertussis, is a serious disease that can be deadly for babies. It is highly contagious and affects the lungs. The scary part of Whooping cough is that people may not know they have it. Symptoms start out like those of a common cold. It can be associated with a mild fever. Children and adults present differently. After a couple of weeks, the cough continues to worsen. Children and infants can appear very ill. The bursts of coughing can cause them to vomit, and even turn blue because of lack of oxygen.

People of all ages can get Whooping cough, but babies that are too young to get the vaccine are most at risk. They are more likely to be hospitalized and suffer the severe complications of Whooping Cough. Those include: hospitalization, pneumonia, seizures, and in rare cases, death. Symptoms in older children and adults are generally milder.

Babies are more likely to get Whooping cough by family members and visitors. This is why we recommend all that will come into contact with a new baby should be vaccinated against Whooping Cough. It is best to get the vaccine more than 2 weeks before visiting baby.

In pregnancy, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that all pregnant women get vaccinated in the third trimester. Ideally around 27-30 weeks. The earlier the better. The full window that is recommended is between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. By getting the vaccine in pregnancy, the baby gets better protection. After you receive your vaccination, your body produces protective antibodies. These protective antibodies are passed to your baby. The antibodies protects your baby, since they cannot get their vaccine until they turn 2 months of life. You should get the vaccine with each pregnancy, not just one. Antibodies decrease over time, so therefore this will offer your baby the best protection. In the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s Committee Opinion, they state that, “There is no evidence of adverse fetal effects from vaccinating pregnant women with an inactivated virus or bacterial vaccines or toxoids, and a growing body of robust data demonstrate safety of such use.

If you are in your third trimester of pregnancy, talk with your doctor or midwife about getting the Tdap Vaccine! Of course do not forget your flu vaccine!