Your Baby Needs Whooping Cough Vaccines on Time

This infant was receiving an intramuscular immunization in his left thigh muscle, which was being administered nurse

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. DTaP is the name of the whooping cough vaccine for children (2 months through 6 years). DTaP vaccine combines protection against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough).

Vaccinate your baby on time to continue protecting against whooping cough

It is very important for your baby to get the DTaP vaccine on time so he can start building his own protection against the disease. Your baby needs to get DTaP vaccines even if you received the whooping cough vaccine for adults (called Tdap) while pregnant. The antibodies you shared with your baby before birth provide short-term protection, but his DTaP shots provide protection during childhood.

Your baby will need several doses of DTaP vaccine to best protect him. CDC recommends the first dose when he is 2 months old. One recent study showed that parents and doctors can prevent many whooping cough deaths among babies. They can do this by making sure all babies receive the first DTaP dose on time. Your baby will need 2 more doses after that, given at 4 months and 6 months, to build up high levels of protection. He will then need 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 old.

Newborns cannot get the whooping cough vaccine

In the United States, there are currently no whooping cough vaccines licensed or recommended for newborns. Therefore, babies do not get the whooping cough vaccine at birth. This leaves babies unprotected in the first few months of life. This is 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:

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 old 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].