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Tdap Vaccine During Pregnancy

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Transplacental transfer of maternal pertussis antibodies from mother to infant may provide protection against pertussis in early life, before beginning the primary DTaP series. There is evidence of efficient transplacental transfer of pertussis antibodies to infants. The effectiveness of maternal antibodies in preventing infant pertussis is not yet known, but pertussis antibodies can protect against some disease and the severe outcomes that come along with it. And, a woman vaccinated with Tdap vaccine during pregnancy will also herself be protected at time of delivery and will be less likely to transmit pertussis to her newborn infant.

By vaccinating a woman with Tdap during pregnancy her infant will gain pertussis antibodies during the most vulnerable time – before three months of age. However, providing this early immunity may also interfere with the infant’s immune response to DTaP vaccine. The infant’s immune response to DTaP may not be as strong, but the clinical implications may not be significant. The benefits of vaccinating during pregnancy and protecting a newborn outweigh the potential risk of blunting the infant’s response to DTaP vaccine. Since infants are at greatest risk of severe disease and death from pertussis before 3 months of age – when their immune systems are least developed – any protection that can be provided is critical. Infants should receive their DTaP vaccines on schedule, starting at 2 months of age.

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