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 whooping cough vaccine (called Tdap) during your third trimester.

Whooping cough is a serious disease that can be deadly for babies. Unfortunately, babies don’t get vaccinated and start building protection against whooping cough until they are two months old. Avoid this gap in protection by getting the whooping cough vaccine 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 a Whooping Cough Vaccine during Each Pregnancy

CDC recommends pregnant women get the whooping cough vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks of each pregnancy, preferably during the earlier part of this time period. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologistsexternal icon and the American College of Nurse-Midwivesexternal icon support this recommendation.

Women need a whooping cough vaccine during each pregnancy to give each baby the greatest number of protective antibodies. Getting the vaccine during pregnancy is the best way to help protect your baby from whooping cough in early life.

Laura decided to get the whooping cough vaccine in her 3rd trimester. Learn how her baby girl was born with some protection against the disease. Also available on YouTube.

Getting the Vaccine during Pregnancy Is Safe for Your Baby

Getting the whooping cough vaccine while you are pregnant is very safe for you and your baby. The most common side effects include:

  • Pain, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Feeling tired

Severe side effects are extremely rare. You cannot get whooping cough from the whooping cough vaccine. Learn more about safety and side effects.

Young Babies Are at Highest Risk

When babies—even healthy babies—catch whooping cough, it 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 younger than one year old who get whooping cough end up in the hospital. The younger the baby is, the more likely it is that he will need treatment in a hospital. Over the past decade in the United States, about 1,000 babies were hospitalized each year due to whooping cough. During that time, typically between five and 15 babies died from whooping cough each year. Most of these deaths were in babies too young to get their own whooping cough vaccine.

Whooping Cough Is Common and Contagious

Whooping cough is a very contagious illness that is common in the United States. One key reason is that today’s vaccines, while safe and effective, do not last as long as experts 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.

Page last reviewed: September 7, 2018