What Pregnant Women Should Know About the Whooping Cough Vaccine

Whooping cough or pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial infection that affects the respiratory system.   It is spread person-to-person by coughing, sneezing, or sharing the same breathing space as someone who is infected.

Complications of pertussis can lead to serious illnesses or death in babies.  Infants under the age of one are at the greatest risk because their immune systems are not fully developed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “About half of babies younger than 1 year who get the disease need care in the hospital.”   Complications of whooping cough may vary by individual and can result in:

  • Pneumonia
  • Seizures
  • Brain damage
  • Apnea (slowed or stopped breathing)

The best way to protect babies from whooping cough is for pregnant women to get the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTaP) shot.   The CDC recommends that, “women get the whooping cough vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks of each pregnancy.”   By receiving the vaccine during this time, mothers can pass on protective antibodies to their babies before birth.   This will offer protection to babies during their first few months of life before they are able to get vaccinated.

If safety is a concern, the CDC advises that getting the vaccine is very safe for mothers and babies.  Severe side effects are extremely rare. The most common side effects women may experience include:

  • Feeling tired
  • Pain, redness or swelling of the area the vaccine was given
  • Body aches
  • Headaches

If you are pregnant, speak with your Ob/Gyn about getting the DTaP vaccination, as well as other vaccinations needed to protect your baby.   To schedule an appointment with an Ob/Gyn at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-291-3276.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.