Pregnancy and Whooping Cough Vaccine

Published on 22 May 2015

The CDC just released a study on Tdap (tetanus, diptheria, pertussis) vaccination rates for pregnant women. These findings are a good indication that we as health professionals need to do more to ensure pregnant women and their newborn children are protected against pertussis, or whooping cough. A mother-to-be should receive a Tdap vaccination in her third trimester (27-36 weeks’ gestation) for each and every pregnancy. The window for vaccination is beginning right now for women due between mid-June and mid-August.

We’ve seen a spike in the number of whooping cough cases in recent years. There have been outbreaks in several states. The best way newborn babies can be protected is by vaccinating the mother. In recent whooping cough outbreaks, children under four months old were both the most likely to be hospitalized and the most likely to die from whooping cough.

To help prevent future outbreaks and protect the new baby, I recommend anyone coming in close contact with the infant to be vaccinated if they have not been vaccinated previously. That means —dad, grandma, grandpa,aunts, uncles, and cousins—should all get vaccinated. It’s also a good opportunity to make sure older siblings are up to date on their immunizations as well.

I encourage pregnant women to talk with their health care provider or obstetrician/gynecologist about the vaccine. They’re readily available in medical offices and pharmacies.

-Clark Kebodeaux, Pharm.D., BCACP

Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice

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