Whooping Cough Vaccines are Safe but Side Effects Can Occur
Whooping cough vaccines are safe, but side effects can occur. CDC continually monitors the safety of all vaccines, which are held to the highest standards of safety. Learn more about how new vaccines get licensed and how their safety is monitored [291KB, 2 pages].
Whooping cough vaccine for adolescents and adults is very safe for you and your unborn baby
Experts have studied the whooping cough vaccine for adolescents and adults (called Tdap vaccine), and they have concluded that it is very safe for you and your unborn baby. Among women who have already received a whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy, none have reported any safety concerns, and there is no evidence of risk to mom or baby.
Tdap vaccine combines protection against tetanus and diphtheria, in addition to whooping cough. Both tetanus and diphtheria toxoids (Td) and tetanus toxoid (TT) vaccines have been used in pregnant women worldwide since the 1960s to prevent tetanus among newborns. Getting Td or TT vaccines during pregnancy is very safe for you and your baby.
You may experience side effects from Tdap vaccine
The most common side effects from Tdap vaccine include redness, swelling, pain, and tenderness where the shot is given, and body reactions like body-ache, fatigue, or fever. In adults who have received 2 doses of Tdap vaccine, the most commonly reported side effect was pain where the shot was given.
Serious side effects are extremely rare, especially in adults.
Tdap vaccine combines protection against tetanus and diphtheria, in addition to whooping cough. Studies found that adults who receive 2 vaccines, both containing the tetanus component of Tdap vaccine, in a short time period (within 2 years) did not have serious side effects. Studies looked at this because there is a theoretical (possible) risk for severe local reactions (called hypersensitivity) if the vaccine is given often. Experts believe the risk for severe adverse events has likely been reduced since these vaccines are now made with lower doses of the tetanus component.
Whooping cough vaccine for children is very safe for your baby
The whooping cough vaccine for children (2 months through 6 years) is called DTaP vaccine. DTaP vaccine combines protection against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. Currently, there are 3 licensed formulations of the DTaP vaccine. Many different clinical trials were conducted on each vaccine to make sure of its safety. Results from clinical trials showed that these vaccines are very safe for infants and children. DTaP vaccine can safely be given at the same time as other vaccines.
Your baby may experience side effects from DTaP vaccine
The most common side effects from DTaP vaccine include:
- Fever (up to about 1 out of 4 children)
- Redness or swelling where the shot was given (up to about 1 out of 4 children)
- Soreness or tenderness where the shot was given (up to about 1 out of 4 children)
These problems occur more often after the 4th and 5th doses of the DTaP series than after earlier doses. Sometimes the 4th or 5th dose of DTaP vaccine is followed by swelling of the entire arm or leg in which the shot was given (up to about 1 out of 30 children). If swelling occurs, it generally lasts for 1 to 7 days after the shot is given.
Other mild problems include:
- Fussiness (up to about 1 out of 3 children)
- Tiredness or poor appetite (up to about 1 out of 10 children)
- Vomiting (up to about 1 out of 50 children)
These problems generally occur 1 to 3 days after the shot.
Moderate side effects are uncommon and serious side effects are extremely rare. Learn more about DTaP vaccine side effects.
You cannot get whooping cough from whooping cough vaccines
Whooping cough vaccines cannot give you whooping cough since they do not contain any live bacteria. The whooping cough vaccines we use today for children and adults in the United States contain purified, inactivated parts of the bacterium that causes whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis).
Breastfeeding is safe after getting a whooping cough vaccine
Getting a whooping cough vaccine while breastfeeding is very safe for you and your baby. A whooping cough vaccine can and should be given to you if you plan to breastfeed or are currently breastfeeding. There are, however, some vaccines that are not recommended for you to get while breastfeeding.
Learn more about breastfeeding.
You can safely get a whooping cough and flu vaccine at the same time
You can get a whooping cough and flu vaccine at the same time during your pregnancy. You can also get them at different visits. If you are pregnant during flu season, you should get the flu vaccine as early as possible. You do not have to wait until later in your pregnancy for the flu shot, like is recommended for the whooping cough vaccine.
You can safely get Tdap vaccine even if you recently got a tetanus shot
It does not matter when you got your last tetanus shot (Td vaccine) — you still need Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy.
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