Pregnant women should receive a dose of the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine, also known as TDAP. This vaccine is critical to protecting the newborn from contracting pertussis (“Whooping Cough”). Because infants are at the highest risk of developing life-threatening complications from pertussis, vaccination of the mother during pregnancy is very important.
When Should TDAP be Administered?
The CDC recommends that the TDAP vaccine be administered during the early part of the third trimester. This means that an ideal time to receive the vaccine is around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy. At this time, the unborn baby’s respiratory system is growing and maturing. The fetus’s lungs are getting bigger and preparing for life outside the mother’s system. It’s critical that the mother receive the TDAP vaccine around this time so that the child is protected after birth.
Is TDAP Dangerous During Pregnancy?
Unlike some other vaccines that may be dangerous to pregnant women, the TDAP vaccine is safe and encouraged during pregnancy. The only two types of TDAP vaccines approved for use in most regions are dead (attenuated) vaccines. This means that they don’t actually carry the live disease-causing pathogen. These vaccines simply carry the antigens and weakened toxoids that will help the body develop immunity towards the disease. These antigens and toxoids are completely safe for administration to pregnant women.
How Often Should Pregnant Women Receive TDAP?
The CDC advises that pregnant women receive one dose of the TDAP vaccine during each pregnancy. It’s important to remember that the main reason for receiving the vaccine during pregnancy is to protect the baby after birth. This is why with each pregnancy; a new dose of the vaccine should be given.
Risks of Not Getting Vaccinated?
The TDAP vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Not getting the TDAP vaccine during pregnancy poses great risks to the baby. Pertussis, also known as “whooping cough”, can cause constant, violent coughs that make it hard for the baby to breathe, eat and drink. Newborns who develop pertussis are at risk of developing worse health conditions.
These include: pneumonia, convulsions, brain damage and even death.
TDAP is only approved for administration to individuals 7 years of age or older. This is why it’s very important that the pregnant woman receive the vaccine in order to protect the newborn. Once born, the infant will not be able to receive the TDAP vaccine until they reach 7 years old. This puts them at risk for contracting tetanus, diphtheria or pertussis for the next 7 years if their mother didn’t take the vaccine while pregnant.
Vaccinations are an important part of staying healthy. Make sure your protected with an appointment at your local Passport Health. Call or book online now.
Ese Agboh is a student nurse who wants to specialize in pediatric nursing and wound care. In her free time, she enjoys reading and writing articles related to medicine and the pathophysiology of communicable diseases. Ese currently lives and studies on the east coast of the United States.