Who needs a Tdap vaccine?
The Tdap vaccination is first given at age 11 or 12 in the United States. It should also be given to any adults who did not receive the Tdap as an adolescent. It is especially important for people who work in healthcare settings, such as hospitals or nursing homes.
Small children are very vulnerable to infection, and newborns cannot receive a DTaP vaccine for several months. Because of this, anyone who regularly comes into contact with or cares for newborns and other infants should get the Tdap vaccine.
Pregnant women should also get a Tdap vaccine with every new pregnancy.
Tdap vaccine and pregnancy
Newborns cannot receive the first dose of their DTaP vaccination until they are two months old. Before then, they are vulnerable to pertussis in particular, which can be fatal for infants.
To protect newborns, both the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that pregnant women receive the Tdap vaccine between weeks 27 and 36 of every pregnancy, even if they had a Tdap vaccine before. This allows the mother’s antibodies to be passed on to the baby, protecting against whooping cough for the first few months of life. Research shows that this is the best way to protect newborns against a potentially fatal whooping cough infection.
There have been many clinical trials to make sure that these vaccines are safe for both pregnant mothers and babies. Research has found that pregnant women are unlikely to experience serious adverse side effects from the Tdap vaccine. Further studies show these vaccinations do not harm fetuses or neonates, and that babies whose mothers receive a Tdap vaccine during pregnancy do not have any increased risk of low birth weight, short gestation, or any other health anomalies at birth.
If you are unsure whether you should receive a Tdap vaccine during pregnancy or any other point in adulthood, talk to your doctor about your vaccination history and whether you are at risk for tetanus, diphtheria, or pertussis.
March 26, 2020
Janet O’Dell, RN