Should Pregnant Women Receive the Dtap Vaccine?
“Would you like to receive the Adacel vaccine?” I ask the new mom holding her hours-old newborn baby.
She looks at me with a confused look on her face.
“It’s an important vaccine that protects you from diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough,” I explain.
As visitors swarm her room and the baby starts crying, she quickly shakes her head. “No, I don’t think so.”
While we offer all new mothers the Adacel, also called the Dtap vaccine following delivery at the hospital where I work, unfortunately, many times, new mothers are too overwhelmed after delivery to fully understand the important of receiving the vaccine.
What is the Dtap vaccine?
The Dtap vaccine offers protection against three tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also known as whooping cough) by providing non-infectious proteins. It is given as an injection, usually in the muscle of the upper arm, much like a flu shot.
While protection for mothers against the diseases is important, one of the most aspects of the vaccine is the protection that it can offer your baby. Pertussis or whooping cough is a dangerous and potentially deadly disease for newborns and infants in particular. It is characterized by severe coughing spells that make it almost impossible for an infant to eat or sleep and can lead to pneumonia, brain damage, seizures, and death.
Because the single most dangerous source of transmission of whooping cough is from mom to baby, the hope is that in protecting moms against whooping cough, their babies will also be protected.
Should I get the Dtap vaccine?
Short answer? Yes! Ask your healthcare provider if you can receive the Dtap (sometimes also called the Adacel vaccine) during your pregnancy, if possible. If you received a Dtap vaccine with a previous pregnancy, the CDC still recommends receiving another booster shot during or immediately following your pregnancy.
You should also encourage all of the adults in your baby’s life — babysitters, grandparents, aunts or uncles — to receive the Dtap vaccine to ensure the best protection for your baby.
Did you receive the Dtap or Adacel vaccine during your pregnancy?