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All Pregnant Women Advised to Get Whooping Cough Vaccine

By ceridwen |

A good friend of mine came down with whooping cough over the summer. She was floored for weeks– vacation plans dashed, work and children neglected. Her chest ached; the cough was violent and relentless. She told me to get a booster. It turns out that even if I had been vaccinated for this disease as a child, I’m no longer protected.

The same week I heard about all of this, a NY Times article announced the return of whooping cough (pertussis) in the US. Over 32,000 cases and 16 deaths have been reported this year, mostly in infants (the disease is very dangerous to infants). This is the largest number of documented cases since 1959.
I got my shot, which came with a bonus booster for tetanus and diptheria. Now the CDC is recommending the Tdap vaccine for all pregnant women.

The advisory committee for the CDC recommends getting the vaccine for each pregnancy in the late second or third trimester (27-36 weeks), regardless of whether you’ve had the Tdap in the past. (Previous recommendations have stated that women should only get the Tdap vaccine if they’ve never had it before.) If that doesn’t happen, mom should get vaccinated as soon as possible after giving birth, preferably before leaving the hospital.

“This is a great opportunity for obstetricians to help their patients protect their newborns and themselves,” said Dr. Richard Beigi, member of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “I urge all obstetricians to recommend and give Tdap vaccine to their pregnant patients.”

Pertussis is a highly contagious upper respiratory disease caused by bacteria and characterized by a violent “whooping” cough. At first it seems like a common cold but then the coughing becomes extremely intense. It’s particularly dangerous, even fatal, for infants. If mom gets the vaccine during pregnancy she’ll be less likely to get whopping cough (and pass it to her baby) but she’ll also transfer pertussis antibodies to her newborn. These antibodies protect the baby until he is old enough to be vaccinated at around 2 months of age. No serious side-effects have been linked to the vaccine.


Ceridwen Morris, CCE, is a writer, childbirth educator and the co-author of From The Hips: A Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Becoming a Parent. Follow her  on Facebook.


Photo: MagerLeagues/Flickr

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About ceridwen



Ceridwen Morris is a writer, mother, and certified childbirth educator. She is the author of several books and screenplays, including (Three Rivers; 2007). She serves on the board of The Childbirth Education Association of Metropolitan New York and teaches at Tribeca Parenting in New York City. Read bio and latest posts → Read Ceridwen's latest posts →

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2 thoughts on “All Pregnant Women Advised to Get Whooping Cough Vaccine

  1. Kellan says:

    This is rediculous!!! They know and have admitted, like Chelsea Vassi has already said, that pertussis is mostly found in people who have gotten the vaccine for it. IT DOESN’T WORK, so let’s give it to more people?!!! Come ON, this is beyond all reason! Those are unborn babies people are willingly putting at unknown amounts of risk, all because of the greed of the vaccine industry.
    Vaccines are not regulated or otherwise watched in order to truly make sure they are what’s best or even good for us. DO YOUR RESEARCH PEOPLE! Parents are especially prone to fear-mongering…and yes, I was one of them. I vaccinated my little boy b/c that’s just what you do, right? Wrong! I don’t allow them anywhere near my daughter. Why? Because of what those terrible things contain. Because of what they can do and have done to other children. My daughter’s life hangs in the balance of such decisions. Her life isn’t worth so called “herd immunity.”

  2. Marie says:

    Actually, the vaccine doesn’t work forever, but it does work. It works very well and is safer than the old vaccine that worked better, so it’s a good choice. I’ll take a safe vaccine over a deadly disease any day, thanks. When you’ve seen an infant with whooping cough, you too will be lining up for the vaccine. Go google it and listen for a minute. Then think again and get your shots and your kids too.

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