By Dr. Holly Puritz
All pregnant women have to-do lists – find a pediatrician, register for classes, sign up for a hospital tour… Let’s add Tdap to every expectant parents list of things to do before the baby arrives.
Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Acellular Pertussis) is a safe vaccine that will protect you and pass that protection on to your baby during your pregnancy. Newborns cannot receive many vaccines until 2 -6 months of age but will be protected if you are vaccinated while you are pregnant.
Whooping cough or pertussis (the “P” in Tdap) is a communicable illness that’s on the rise and it can be fatal to newborns. The disease can occur at any age but infants are at highest risk for severe disease and death. That’s the scary news.
The good news? It’s easily preventable with a vaccine that’s safe for pregnant moms after 20 weeks of pregnancy. All moms to be should be sure to ask their OBs or family doctors about the vaccine – many obstetricians now offer it in their offices.
The next step after you are vaccinated is to make sure close family members also receive the vaccine. Dads, grandparents, caregivers who will be in close contact with your baby after birth need to be vaccinated. It’s easy and safe – a onetime vaccine is protective.
Local health departments are also offering the vaccine to family members (often at reduced fees) or they can go to their own physicians. Family members and moms need to receive the vaccine at least two weeks before having contact with your baby. This creates a safety cocoon of vaccinated caregivers around your baby.
According to ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists): “The vaccine is safe and effective and has not been shown to cause autism or other adverse effects. All family members who will be in contact with your newborn or ANY infant younger than 12 months of age should be vaccinated. This helps provide protection for your baby because he or she cannot get this vaccination until 2 months of age.”
So spread the word – the best gift we can give our newborns is a safe and healthy first year and Tdap is one way to do this. Want more information? Here are some websites that will give you accurate information you can trust: