Whooping Cough Vaccines Are Safe

Whooping cough vaccines are safe. In particular, getting the whooping cough vaccine called Tdap during pregnancy is safe for both women and their babies. The whooping cough vaccine called DTaP is safe for children.

Tdap has a decade-long track record of safety during pregnancy—for mom and baby
  • Getting Tdap during pregnancy does not put women at increased risk for pregnancy complications.
  • No safety concerns or trends (also called safety signals) have been identified for babies whose mothers received Tdap during pregnancy.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved both Tdap vaccines (Boostrix® and Adacel®) for use during pregnancy.
  • See the research page for a list of published safety studies.

Tdap vaccination during pregnancy is widely supported

In 2012, CDC first began recommending the use of Tdap during pregnancy based on feedback from an outside panel of experts (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices).

Doctors and midwives who specialize in caring for pregnant women agree that getting Tdap is important and safe during pregnancy. Pediatric and family doctors also support the use of Tdap during pregnancy to provide protection to newborns.

Multiple safety systems, studies support Tdap vaccination in pregnancy

Some may experience side effects from getting Tdap

Most side effects are mild, meaning they do not affect daily activities. They also get better on their own in a few days. The most common side effects from Tdap include:

  • Reactions where the doctor gave the shot
    • Pain
    • Redness
    • Swelling

In adults who have received 2 doses of Tdap, the most commonly reported side effect was pain where they got the shot.

Severe side effects are extremely rare.

DTaP is safe for children

DTaP is the name of the whooping cough vaccine for children (2 months through 6 years). DTaP also combines protection against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough, but in different amounts than Tdap. Currently, there are 3 licensed formulations of DTaP. Researchers conducted many different clinical trials on each vaccine to make sure of its safety. Results from clinical trials showed that these vaccines are safe for babies and children. Doctors can safely give DTaP at the same time as other vaccines.

Some babies may experience side effects from DTaP

The most common side effects from DTaP include:

  • Reactions where the doctor gave the shot
    • Swelling
    • Soreness
  • Fever
  • Irritability (fussiness)
  • Feeling tired
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting

More serious reactions, such as seizures, non-stop crying for 3 hours or more, or high fever (over 105°F) after DTaP vaccination happen much less often. Rarely, vaccination is followed by swelling of the entire arm or leg, especially in older children when they receive their fourth or fifth dose.

Pregnant women cannot get whooping cough from Tdap

Tdap cannot give pregnant women whooping cough since the vaccine does 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).

Learn more about different types of vaccines and which CDC recommends for pregnant women.

Breastfeeding is safe after getting Tdap

Getting Tdap while breastfeeding is safe for women and their babies. Women can and should get Tdap if they plan to breastfeed or are currently breastfeeding. There are, however, some vaccines that CDC does not recommend women get while breastfeeding.

Learn more about how breastfeeding may pass some protective antibodies from the mom onto her baby.

It is safe to get a whooping cough and flu vaccine at the same time

Women can get Tdap and a flu vaccine at the same time during pregnancy. They can also get them at different visits. If women are pregnant during flu season, September and October are generally good times to get vaccinated. But they can get a flu vaccine at any point during pregnancy. Women do not have to wait until later in their pregnancy to get a flu vaccine, like CDC recommends for Tdap.

Pregnant women can safely get Tdap even if they recently got a tetanus vaccine

It does not matter when someone got their last tetanus vaccine (Td or Tdap)—women still need Tdap during each pregnancy.

Whooping cough vaccines do not contain thimerosal

None of the whooping cough vaccines (Tdap and DTaP) currently used in the United States contain thimerosal.