Diptheria, also known as Whooping cough, is a very contagious and severe bacterial infection often affecting young babies. Whooping cough starts very much like a common cold but after 1-2 weeks, uncontrollable coughing often occurs and it can be fatal.
The Tdap (Adacel) vaccine is a combination vaccine for Diptheria, Pertussis (Whooping cough) and Tetanus. It is given primarily for its Whooping cough part.
Getting the vaccine will make your body produce antibodies, protective immune proteins, that will reach your baby through your placenta and through your breast milk which will offer your baby some protection until it gets vaccinated itself at 2 months age. At that point, your baby will be able to produce its own antibodies from there on.
Due to its seriousness, the current recommendation is that you receive a Tdap vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks gestation with each new pregnancy in order to maximize the amount of antibodies available for your baby at the time of birth. If you don’t get it during your pregnancy, it is recommended that¬ you get it before you leave the hospital.
Since it takes 2 weeks for the vaccine to produce its peak immunity, it is a good idea for all other potential caregivers to receive the vaccine at least 2 weeks prior to being in contact with your baby.