Nobody like to fill their body with medicine when pregnant, but when it comes to the whooping cough vaccine, it’s pretty much an essential. The reason is that a mother’s immunity to whooping cough (pertussis) diminishes as the nine months progresses. Babies under the age of six months are too young to be vaccinated against whooping cough, yet the disease tends to be most serious in this age group. The answer is for the mother to be vaccinated during pregnancy, therefore passing on the immunity to the baby who is protected then for the first few months of life.
What vaccine do I need?
The vaccine given during pregnancy is called a Tdap vaccine, which is a low dose tetanus (T), diphtheria (d) and acellular pertussis (ap) booster vaccine, protecting against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis). Vaccination is recommended between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. This is considered the best time in pregnancy to provide protection for the baby during the first few months of life.
Do I need it every pregnancy?
Yes – as your immunity wanes during pregnancy, you need a new vaccine each pregnancy so the antibodies can be passed on to each unborn child.
How long is my baby protected from whooping cough?
If you get the vaccine during pregnancy, your baby is protected for the first few months of life. However, the levels of antibodies rapidly decline, so it’s essential that your child gets the routine childhood vaccines at two, four and six months to stay protected.