First, What Is The TDap Vaccine?
The Tdap vaccine provides combined protection against the diseases of tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis.
Pregnancy TDap Administration Can Reduce Risk Of Infection
The following diseases are fatal and infants are at high risk for the infections because newborns don’t begin their vaccination series until about 2 months old.
Tetanus: Also called Lockjaw, tetanus is a bacterial infection caused by Clostridium tetani that causes painful muscle spasms often in the neck and jaw. If the muscles that are involved in breathing are affected, it can even lead to death.
Diphtheria: Diphtheria is also a bacterial infection caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae that are poisonous. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, heart failure, and paralysis which can be fatal.
Acellular Pertussis: Commonly called whooping cough, acellular pertussis is a respiratory disease caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. It is extremely contagious and involves severe coughing (1,2).
Infants under 2 months are too young to receive a vaccine for these diseases, which would allow them to produce their own antibodies. When the pregnant person gets the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, it allows some of the antibodies produced by the mother to transfer to the baby which protects babies until they are able to receive their own vaccine.
Outbreaks of Pertussis are increasing in the United States. According to the CDC, around 1,000 are hospitalized and around 5-15 die each year due to pertussis. The CDC tracked around 1800 infants contracting whooping cough. The highest numbers are in infants that are too young to protect themselves. Infants can benefit from minimized risk through a Tdap vaccine during pregnancy. Getting a Tdap vaccine during pregnancy between 27 through 36 weeks lowers the risk of whooping cough in babies younger than 2 months old by 78%. (1, 2).
Is The Tdap Vaccine Really Safe?
Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) have not found a Tdap vaccine pregnancy risk, whether it’s pregnancy complications or harm to the mother or harm to the baby. Both the CDC and ACOG, which is the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, consider the vaccine to be safe for mothers during pregnancy.
Side Effects of TDap Vaccine During Pregnancy
The side effects of the Tdap vaccine include the common ones of most vaccines; tenderness/swelling at the site of injection, body aches, fever, fatigue. They are mild/moderate and generally resolve by themselves. Severe side effects are rare. If you have any concerns, discuss them with your doctor prior to getting the vaccine (1).
Cost For TDap Vaccine
The price of getting a Tdap vaccine can range from $75-$180.
The baby can also be protected by “Cocooning”. Cocooning refers to vaccinating all those that come in contact with the baby. Unfortunately, this is very difficult to fully implement. This method is also more costly than having the person carrying the child get the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy.
It should be noted, however, that getting the maternal Tdap vaccine shot along with cocooning provides the most protection to the baby (3).
How Long Does The Tdap Vaccine Last?
The Tdap vaccine lasts 10 years which is when a booster shot is recommended. The infant on the other hand should receive a Dtap Vaccine. The Dtap vaccine provides the same purpose for those under the age of 7. The first Dtap vaccine can be administered at the age of 2 months (4). The baby need 3 shots of Dtap which can be taken at the ages:
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 15-18 months
- 4-6 years.
Talk To Your Doctor About Pregnancy TDap Administration
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as the CDC both recommend getting the Tdap vaccine while pregnant between 27 and 36 weeks (3rd trimester) of each pregnancy. The earlier the mother receives the vaccine, the more time there is for antibody response which increases the transfer to the baby.
If the mother receives the Tdap vaccine after the baby is born, the antibodies may be passed on to the baby through breastfeeding. However it takes 2 weeks post vaccination for the mother to have protection against the diseases. This means the mother can still contract the diseases and pass it on to the infant during those two week. Therefore it is best for the mother to receive the shot during pregnancy (5).
Anyone who will be in close contact with the baby should also get a single dose of Tdap 2 weeks prior to being in contact with the baby.
TDap Vaccine During Pregnancy: Take Home Points
- Whooping cough, Diphtheria, and Pertussis cases are increasing in the United States. Infants in their first few months are at their most vulnerable to these life-threatening infections.
- Get the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy (between 27-36 weeks) for maximum protection against these infections.
- Cocooning (vaccinating those that come in close contact with the baby) will provide extra protection for the baby.
- The infant 3 shot DTAP vaccination (different from TDap) series begins at age 2 months.
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