Pregnant? Get Tdap in Your Third Trimester
Only you can give your baby protection against whooping cough before your little one is even born. Talk to your doctor or midwife about getting the Tdap vaccine during your third trimester.
Whooping cough is a serious disease that can be deadly for babies. Unfortunately, babies can't get vaccinated and start building protection against whooping cough until they are two months old. The good news is that you can avoid this gap in protection by getting the whooping cough vaccine (called Tdap) during the third trimester of your pregnancy. By doing so, you pass antibodies to your baby before birth. These antibodies help protect your baby in the first few months of life.
You Need Whooping Cough Vaccine during Each Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, you'll need the whooping cough vaccine in your third trimester.
CDC recommends pregnant women get the Tdap vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks of each pregnancy. This recommendation is supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Nurse-Midwives, healthcare professionals who specialize in caring for pregnant women. The goal is to give babies some short-term protection against whooping cough in early life.
The amount of antibodies you have from the whooping cough vaccine will decrease over time. That is why it's important for pregnant women to get a whooping cough vaccine during each pregnancy so that each baby has the benefit of getting high levels of protective antibodies. Getting the Tdap vaccine while pregnant is the best way to help protect your baby from whooping cough in the first few months of life.
Tdap during Pregnancy Is Safe for Your Baby
Getting the whooping cough vaccine while you are pregnant is very safe for you and your unborn baby. The most common side effects include redness, swelling, pain, and tenderness where the shot is given, body-ache, fatigue, or fever. Severe side effects are extremely rare. You cannot get whooping cough from the whooping cough vaccine. Learn more about safety and side effects.
Whooping Cough Is Making a Comeback
Whooping cough is a very contagious illness that is on the rise. In 2012, the United States experienced a 60-year record high number of cases and we expect this trend to continue.
There are many factors contributing to this increase, but one key reason is that today's vaccines, while safe and effective, do not last as long as we would like. However, getting vaccinated is still the best way to prevent whooping cough and its complications.
View the latest U.S. whooping cough numbers.
Young Babies Are at Highest Risk
When babies—even healthy babies—catch whooping cough, the symptoms can be very serious because their immune systems are still developing. They can get pneumonia (a lung infection), and many have trouble breathing.
About half of babies who get whooping cough end up in the hospital. The younger the baby is when he gets whooping cough, the more likely it is that he will need to be treated in the hospital. Every year in the United States babies die from whooping cough, with most deaths in those too young to be protected by their own whooping cough vaccine.
California Whooping Cough Epidemic, 2014
See California's latest numbers of reported cases and deaths.
- Pregnancy and whooping cough
- Information about whooping cough in English and en Español
- Hear what whooping cough sounds like
- Listen to a podcast about whooping cough
- Send a Health-e-Card (available in English and Spanish) about getting the whooping cough vaccine while pregnant
- For healthcare professionals:
- Pertussis: Summary of vaccine recommendations
- Tdap for pregnant women
- Information on treatment, complications, diagnostic testing, and more
- Print materials to use with your patients
- Videos on specimen collection, vaccine and treatment recommendations
- Committee opinion from American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- Position statement from American College of Nurse-Midwives [89 KB]
- Page last reviewed: August 4, 2014
- Page last updated: August 4, 2014
- Content source:
- National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Division of Bacterial Diseases
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs