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What Fertility Patients Should Know about Pertussis Vaccination

February 22, 2013

An update issued by the CDC says pregnant women should receive the tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination during each pregnancy, irrespective of previous Tdap vaccination. This information is not only pertinent to pregnant women, but also to fertility patients actively trying to conceive so they may be aware of vaccination guidelines and plan accordingly.

The new guidelines, first adopted by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in October 2012, were published in the February 22, 2013 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and stress the importance of vaccination against pertussis for mothers-to-be. This decision was based on research data that shows antibodies are passed from the mother to her baby in utero. Antibodies passed to the child offer protection for the first two months of life until they are able to receive the vaccination themselves. The DTap series is administered to children in five doses at the age of two months, four months, six months, 15 months, and 18 months and one final dose before the child enters school between four and six years of age.

Pertussis is commonly known as whooping cough and can result in hospitalization or death in more severe cases. More than half of infants under one year of age who get pertussis must be hospitalized. Of those, 1 in 5 will get pneumonia and 1 in 100 will die.

In 2012 alone, there were 41,880 reported cases of pertussis and 14 deaths in infants younger than one year of age; a drastic spike from the previous peak in 2010 which recorded 27,550 cases, 3,350 of which were in infants less than six months of age, and 25 of whom died as a result of severe pertussis. In approximately 40% of those cases, the mothers had passed the illness to their child. Infants born to women who received the Tdap vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks gestation showed reduce incidence of pertussis than children of mothers who had not been vaccinated. Immune response takes effect approximately two weeks after vaccination.

Because anti-pertussis antibodies are short lived, it is best for women to be vaccinated during pregnancy and with each pregnancy. Optimal benefits are received when a woman is vaccinated late in the second trimester or early in the third trimester. In most cases, the interval between pregnancies is too great for the antibodies to carry over. Pregnant women and should discuss the Tdap vaccination with their doctor.

Read: Vaccinations During Infertility Treatment and Pregnancy


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