Tetanus Diphtheria & Pertussis Vaccine

Find your care

If you are a new patient seeking prenatal care, please call 310-794-7274. If you are an established patient and need to reach labor and delivery, call 310-825-9111 for Westwood or 424-259-9250 for Santa Monica.

Frequently Asked Questions - Pertussis & Tetanus Diphtheria

What is pertussis (whooping cough)?

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a severe cough that is highly contagious. It’s named for the “whooping” sound people with pertussis make when they breathe. In newborns, whooping cough is a life-threatening illness that makes it tough for babies to eat or even breathe. The tetanus diphtheria and pertussis vaccine can prevent it.

Should I get this vaccine if I’m pregnant?

Yes. The tetanus diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is recommended between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, with each pregnancy. The vaccine is safe for pregnant women, and it gives your baby immunity and protection for the first 2 months of their life before they get their own vaccine.

If I recently received a Tdap vaccine, should I get another now that I’m pregnant?

Yes. This vaccine is recommended during every pregnancy to allow the transfer of antibodies to the baby.

Can newborns get this vaccine?

No. That’s why it’s important for birthing parents and others who will be in close contact with the newborn to get it. Infants cannot be vaccinated for whooping cough until they are 2 months old. In the meantime, they are at risk of catching this serious illness.

I didn’t get a Tdap vaccine during pregnancy. Do I still need it?

Yes, if you did not get this vaccine during pregnancy, make a point to get your vaccine right after your baby is born.

I’m breastfeeding my baby. Is it safe for me to get the Tdap vaccine?

Yes. This vaccine is a safe option for breastfeeding parents (and their babies) who did not get the vaccine while they were pregnant. You may pass on some antibodies to your baby in your breast milk that can help protect against whooping cough. It takes about 2 weeks for your body to pass on the protective antibodies. That’s why it’s best to get the vaccine while you’re pregnant. That way, you pass on immunity to your baby starting with your very first feeding.

Are there other ways to protect my baby against whooping cough?

The best thing you can do is to get your Tdap vaccine. Also, make sure that all family members and any caregivers are up to date on their vaccines. If they are not up to date on this vaccine, ask that they get it at least 2 weeks before being in close contact with your baby. Do your best to surround your baby with a “safe cocoon” of vaccinated caregivers. The vaccine for adults is a combination vaccine to prevent three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria and — most important for a pregnant mother and her baby — pertussis, or whooping cough.