It has long been followed in India that 2 doses of Tetanus Toxoid vaccine and if needed, the 3rd booster dose is given to all pregnant females to prevent the newborn against tetanus infection in crucial early days of life. This vaccine has produced very good results and decreased neonatal mortality rate (infant deaths that occur during the first 28 days of life) due to tetanus significantly. 

New developments are always happening in the medical field and now it is recommended that instead of taking a simple Tetanus Toxoid shot, it is better to give a vaccine that covers Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis ( TDaP) infections. Many recognized bodies are recommending TDaP instead of Tetanus Toxoid alone.

Young babies with whooping cough (also known as Pertussis) are often very unwell and most babies have to be admitted to the hospital because of this illness. When whooping cough is particularly severe, they can die. Pregnant women can help protect their babies by getting vaccinated – ideally from 16 weeks up to 32 weeks during pregnancy. If for any reason a pregnant woman misses having this vaccine, they can still have it up until they go into labor. 

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and a panel of experts who make vaccine recommendations (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) have studied the effect of Diptheria and particularly, the effect of whooping cough on infants and have recommended the TDaP vaccine. They have concluded that it is very safe for pregnant women and their babies. These experts carefully reviewed the available safety data before recommending that women get the vaccine during every pregnancy. 

The TDaP vaccine is recommended in pregnancy to help protect both the mother and her newborn infant against three diseases together - Tetanus, Diptheria and Pertussis (whooping cough). By immunizing the mother during her pregnancy, the baby is also protected in the following two ways:

1. By the antibodies produced by the mother following immunization and passed to the baby across the placenta

2. The mother is protected from catching whooping cough and passing it to her baby. It is important to emphasize that this protection is temporary and the infant should receive their own immunizations on time, starting at 6 weeks, so they develop their own, longer-term immunity. 

However, one needs to be aware of the side-effects of taking this vaccine. Most side effects are mild, meaning they do not affect daily activities. They also get better on their own in a few days. The most common side effects of the Tdap vaccine include:

  • Redness              
  • Swelling                
  • Pain
  • Tenderness where you got the shot
  • Body-ache, 
  • Fatigue and Fever in adults who have received 2 doses of the Tdap vaccine, the most commonly reported side effect was pain where they got the shot.

Severe side effects are extremely rare, especially in adults.

Hence, this information is very important. Let's make sure we all tell about this vaccine to moms-to-be in our close circle and spread the awareness. Stay healthy, stay happy!