Your Baby Needs Whooping Cough Vaccines on Time
Once your baby is old enough (2 months), he needs to get his whooping cough vaccines ― that will be the best way to protect him from whooping cough as he gets older. The whooping cough vaccine for children (2 months through 6 years) is called DTaP. DTaP vaccine combines protection against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria.
Vaccinate your baby on time to continue protecting against whooping cough
It is very important for your baby to get his whooping cough vaccine (DTaP) on time so he can start building his own protection against the disease. Your baby will need several doses of DTaP vaccine to best protect him, even if you received the whooping cough vaccine for adults (called Tdap) while pregnant. The antibodies he got from you provide short-term protection, but his DTaP shots provide protection during childhood. His first dose is when he is 2 months old. He will need 2 more doses after that, given at 4 months and 6 months, to build up high levels of protection, and then booster shots at 15 through 18 months and at 4 through 6 years to maintain that protection.
Most whooping cough deaths are among babies younger than 3 months of age.
Newborns cannot get whooping cough vaccine
Babies do not get a whooping cough vaccine at birth. In fact, there are currently no whooping cough vaccines licensed or recommended for newborns.
Several studies found that a dose of whooping cough vaccine at birth is safe, but a newborn’s immune system is not able to create antibodies until he is 2 months old. This leaves babies unprotected in the first few months of life when they are at greatest risk for catching whooping cough and having severe, potentially life-threating complications from the infection.
The best way you can protect your baby is to:
- Get a whooping cough vaccine while you are pregnant
- Encourage those around your baby to be up-to-date with their whooping cough vaccine
- Have your baby get DTaP vaccines on time according to CDC's immunization schedule [2 pages] starting at 2 months
Your vaccine during pregnancy could affect your baby’s response to his vaccine
There is a chance that your baby’s immune response to the first few doses of his DTaP vaccine may not be as strong after you get your whooping cough vaccine while pregnant. However, based on a recent study looking at this issue, this interference does not seem to cause any problems when it comes to protecting your baby. Researchers are still working to better understand this issue. The benefits of you getting the vaccine while pregnant outweigh this potential risk. Babies younger than 2 months of age only have the antibodies they get from their mother to help protect them. Any protection that you can provide at this age is critical because young babies are most vulnerable to severe disease and death from whooping cough.
When you get your vaccine while pregnant, it is still critical that your baby gets all his vaccines according to the recommended schedule [2 pages].
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