A CDC study published today provides further evidence that Tdap vaccination during pregnancy helps protect newborns from whooping cough during their first two months of life, when they are most vulnerable to the disease.
Whooping cough, or pertussis, is highly contagious and can be especially serious for infants who aren’t old enough to be vaccinated. CDC scientists tracked reports of infant whooping cough cases between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2019. They found an association between reduced rates of whooping cough in newborns younger than two months old and Tdap vaccination during pregnancy. These findings further support CDC’s recommendation for Tdap vaccination during weeks 27–36 of each pregnancy.
“Getting Tdap during pregnancy offers infants the best protection before they are old enough to receive their whooping cough vaccines,” said Dr. José R. Romero, Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “This protection is critical because those first few months are when infants are most likely to have serious complications, be hospitalized or die if they get whooping cough.”
The new study is the first time researchers have looked at U.S. population level trends in infant whooping cough cases since this maternal vaccination strategy began in 2011. Newborn whooping cough rates decreased significantly since the introduction of maternal Tdap vaccination. When given during the third trimester of pregnancy, Tdap vaccination prevents more than three in four cases of whooping cough in infants younger than two months old.
“Everyone who is pregnant should feel confident in knowing that the Tdap vaccine is safe and effective,” said Dr. Linda Eckert, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ liaison to CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. “Knowing that Tdap vaccination during pregnancy protects nine in 10 babies from being hospitalized with whooping cough, I strongly recommend this vaccine to all my pregnant patients for their peace of mind and for their family’s health and well-being.”
Women should get vaccinated during the third trimester of each pregnancy to boost their antibodies and pass those antibodies on to their infants. All people in close contact with infants should be up to date with their whooping cough vaccines.
CDC and partners are working to increase Tdap vaccination during pregnancy, which dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit the CDC whooping cough website