Newborns cannot have the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine until they are at least 2 months old. That leaves them vulnerable to a highly contagious, potentially deadly disease at a time when they’re most at risk of catching it.
Whooping cough is a serious respiratory bacterial disease, marked by violent coughing; it’s especially dangerous for babies, who can suffer seizures, pneumonia, brain damage and even death as a result.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that expectant moms be immunized against pertussis (whooping cough) in the third trimester of each pregnancy.
This creates protective antibodies against the disease that can be passed along to the baby in the womb and provide temporary protection—until he or she is old enough to get the DTaP vaccine (for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis).
- If you did not have a Tdap (pertussis vaccine) during pregnancy, get vaccinated as soon as possible after childbirth—even if you received the vaccine as a child. Contact your healthcare provider about getting the vaccine again.
- Anyone else who will regularly take care of your baby should also get the vaccine.
Your newborn will be immunized against pertussis at 2, 4 and 6 months in the first year and potentially twice more between ages 1 and 6.
Why Whooping Cough Is on the Rise
There are 5 times more cases of pertussis (whooping cough) today than 10 years ago, and studies have found that up to 80% of babies caught the disease from family members and caregivers.
Researchers believe an adjusted version of vaccine that has been given to children in the U.S. since the 1990s has offered limited protection, and that a new version of the vaccine will probably need to be developed.
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