Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Vaccines Health Center

Font Size

Pregnant Women to Get Pertussis Vaccine

CDC Committee: To Stop Deadly Infant Whooping Cough, Give Vaccine Late in Pregnancy
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 23, 2011 -- To halt a spike in whooping cough cases and deaths in infants, pregnant women now are advised to get a booster shot of the pertussis vaccine in their late second or third trimester.

Vaccination against whooping cough -- pertussis -- can't start before age 2 months. But the disease is particularly deadly for unprotected infants. Of the 194 U.S. pertussis deaths from 2000 to 2009, 152 were in infants ages 1 month or less. Twenty-three deaths were in infants ages 2 to 3 months.

Doctors have been fighting recent outbreaks of whooping cough by giving the Tdap booster vaccine to women as soon as they give birth -- and also vaccinating everyone else who comes into contact with an infant. The idea, called "cocooning," is a good one. But in the real world, it's been nearly impossible to vaccinate most fathers -- and even harder to find and vaccinate grandparents, siblings, and caretakers.

"Is cocooning working? No, not at the national level," CDC researcher Jennifer Liang, DVM, told the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) at yesterday's meeting. "We've had very little success vaccinating fathers and other family members."

"We need a new strategy," said ACIP working group chairman Mark Sawyer, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego.

The new strategy: Give the Tdap booster vaccine to women in the late stages of pregnancy.

"It's a twofer," said ACIP chairwoman Carol Baker, MD, professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. "By vaccinating in the late second or third trimester, you protect the mother and you protect the infant."

That's because the developing fetus gets a protective dose of its mother's antibodies. This protection can help bridge the gap between birth and the infant's own vaccination.

By a 14-1 vote, the ACIP recommended this plan. Women now will be given a booster dose of Tdap after their 20th week of pregnancy.

What about cocooning?

"We would never not recommend cocooning, but it is an insufficient national strategy to prevent pertussis mortality and morbidity," Liang said.

The Tdap booster vaccine is meant for teens and adults. Those who have already had their booster shot do not need another. But for those who aren't sure, a second booster is safe.

Today on WebMD

passport, pills and vaccine
25 ways to protect yourself from illness.
syringes and graph illustration
Create a personalized schedule.
flu shot signage
Get answers to your questions
gloved hand holding syringe
Which ones do you need?
woman walking
Vaccine Schedule Are Your Childs Shots Up To Date
69x75 thumbnail early pregnancy 02
gloved hand holding syringe
adult vaccine injection
woman peeking under sheets
cold season and vitamin C
Adult Meningitis Vaccines What You Should Know