Tdap Vaccination for Pregnant Women and Their Families

Submitted by Ami Keatts, MD, Augusta Health Care for Women

One recent addition to prenatal care has been the recommendation for vaccination against pertussis. Previously, we advised vaccination against pertussis to patients prior to conception with a Tdap vaccine. The Tdap vaccine prevents tetanus, diptheria and pertussis. In 2011, the recommendation changed to advise vaccination of the pregnant patient during every pregnancy.

We now advise and administer the Tdap vaccine during routine prenatal care visits from 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. The reason the pregnant woman is advised to get the vaccine is to trigger her body to make antibodies against pertussis. The pregnant woman then passes the antibodies to the fetus. This allows the fetus to have antibodies present in the circulation prior to getting the vaccine.

We advise family members and care givers who will be close to the newborn get vaccinated too. The term for this is “cocooning”. We have found that providing the vaccine to the partners of our patients has improved acceptance rates.