Texas Health and Human Services / Texas Health Steps

Promoting Timely Pertussis Vaccinations

Case Study

Karina 20 years

Karina, a full-time college student, is pregnant for the first time. She recently left her job at a child-care center and plans to take off a semester when her baby is born.

During the 24-week prenatal medical checkup, you ask whether Karina is aware that pertussis—which the public knows as whooping cough—is a very contagious respiratory disease. She remembers getting a pertussis vaccination when she was hired two years ago, but never thought about it again.

You remind Karina that the contagious nature of pertussis commonly affects infants and children and can be fatal, with newborns at highest risk. Karina’s newborn daughter will be at risk for pertussis because infants must be at least age 2 months before receiving the first of five pertussis vaccinations. Everyone in close contact with a baby, especially the mother, should be vaccinated.

What should you do next?

Recommend that Karina get a Tdap vaccination at this checkup.

Encourage Karina to get a Tdap vaccination between weeks 27 and 36 of her pregnancy.

Remind Karina that once her baby is born, she should restrict contact between the baby and anyone who may have been exposed to pertussis bacteria.

Tell Karina to get a Tdap vaccination before she returns to college next semester.

CDC Recommendations for Tdap and DTaP Immunizations

The CDC recommends routine vaccination against pertussis, beginning at age 2 months through adulthood.

The DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) immunization should be administered to infants and young children five times: at ages 2, 4 and 6 months, at 15 through 18 months, and at age 4 through 6 years.

The Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) immunization is administered at specific intervals beginning at age 7 years through adulthood, including once during every pregnancy.

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