CDC study: Tdap vaccine during pregnancy lowers rate of whooping cough in newborns

A new study shows a Tdap vaccination during pregnancy helps protect newborns from whooping cough during the first two months of their life, according to the CDC.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is highly contagious and can be especially serious for infants who aren’t old enough to be vaccinated. Scientists with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have tracked reports of infant whooping cough cases between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2019. They found a link between reduced rates of the virus in newborns younger than two months, and that Tdap vaccination during pregnancy.

“Getting Tdap during pregnancy offers infants the best protection before they are old enough to receive their whooping cough vaccines,” said Dr. José 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 CDC says 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. They say 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.

The agency suggests women should get vaccinated during the third trimester of each pregnancy to boost their antibodies and pass those antibodies on to their infants. The CDC says all people in close contact with infants should be up to date with their whooping cough vaccines.