The second I found out I was pregnant, my brain went into research mode. Being the left-brain dominant person that I am, I had to know anything and everything there was to know about pregnancy and babies.

Inevitably, I crossed the topic about vaccines. At first, I wasn’t particularly interested in reading much about it, because I thought I still had time before my baby was born. But, I was actually surprised to discover that some vaccines are recommended for pregnant women. My immediate knee-jerk reaction was to accept the vaccines, after all, hadn’t there been thousands of studies confirming the safety of vaccines during pregnancy?

So, when my midwife finally offered the Tdap vaccine, I froze.
“I need more time” I said. When it came right down to it, I couldn’t just blindly allow her to inject me.

And then, I came across this article by blogger and child advocate, Tamara Reese. The article is all about a, once-skeptical, mama who ultimately decided to take the Tdap vaccine during her pregnancy. Oddly, it was her article that helped change my mind.

Today, I’m going to respond to Reese’s post, and explain why I changed my mind about the Tdap vaccine.

You can easily read in the article, but Reese opens up by explaining her doubtfulness about needing the Tdap vaccine. After being hounded by her midwife, she decides to go home and do a little research.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control, in October 2012, the immunization advisory committee recommended that providers, “administer Tdap during each pregnancy irrespective of the patient’s prior history of receiving Tdap. To maximize the maternal antibody response and passive antibody transfer to the infant.”
This is very true. In fact, you were recommended to receive the Tdap vaccine, even though you had already been injected just 18 months prior during your previous pregnancy. What you fail to mention here is that, while it may be recommended, Tdap still remains in the Pregnancy Category Risk C. According to, the definition of a Class C drug is: “Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks.”
Reese continues on about pertussis (whooping cough)
“which is on the rise, particularly in areas where community immunity is compromised because of parental refusal of vaccination.”
This assertion is interesting to me, because unvaccinated children make up a very small percentage of the United States. In fact, in the 2013-14 school year, only nine states reported a kindergarten class with less than 95% vaccination rates. With that in mind, let me show you the numbers. In 1994, there were 4,617 documented cases of pertussis. In that same year, 93% of children had been vaccinated with the DTaP vaccine. 20 years later, in 2014, there were 32,971 cases of confirmed pertussis, despite the number of vaccinated children being even higher at 94.7%.
Continuing in the very next sentence, Resse warns that
“Pertussis is particularly life-threatening to infants under 6 months of age, many of which are hospitalized or even die.”
The fact is, pertussis remains deadly among underdeveloped countries. In areas with high levels of disease (like HIV/AIDS) and malnourishment, little or no access to clean water, and no available healthcare, diseases like pertussis are catastrophic. But, is a vaccine really needed in developed countries? In 2012, England saw a pertussis epidemic, where an estimated 9,300 were documented as infected. Many people got sick, but most recovered. Out of the nearly 10,000 who were affected, how many would you guess died? The answer? Five. Of course, no one is arguing that it wasn’t a devastating blow to the families affected. But, is it worth injecting pregnant women with a risky drug?
Downplaying the very serious risks associated with a Class C Drug, Reese continues on saying
“There is some minimal risk to receiving multiple does of the tetanus portion of the vaccine in a 2-year period…”
A very interesting fact to note at this point is that in 2008, only three years prior to recommending Tdap for pregnant women, the CDC said “Available evidence does not address the safety of Tdap for pregnant women, their fetuses, or pregnancy outcomes sufficiently.” Continuing, “The safety and efficacy of using Tdap in pregnant women has not been demonstrated, and Tdap is not recommended for use in pregnant women in any country. No evidence exists of excess morbidity or any fatality among pregnant women ascribed to pertussis.” Oddly, with no additional research or studies, and within 3 years’ time, this recommendation changed. 
Shortly after the recommendation to vaccinate during pregnancy, the CDC even admitted that  “…the safety of administering a booster dose of Tdap to pregnant women was not studied.” Actually, Tamara, did you know that by changing your mind and accepting that Tdap vaccine, you were consenting to, essentially, becoming the CDC’s guinea pig. “Because information on use of Tdap in pregnant women was lacking, both manufacturers of Tdap established pregnancy registries to collect information and pregnancy outcomes from pregnant women vaccinated with Tdap.
Furthering her thought, Reese completes that sentence with
“…the risks are completely overshadowed by the benefits of passing even some immunity of a life-threatening disease to my unborn child.”
A very noble act, indeed, Tamara. The problem? Even if all those risks are worth it to you, studies just don’t back up the idea of cocooning. Cocooning, the belief that by vaccinating all those around a baby will protect them, has been disproven many times. Actually, a recent study conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) says that this mentality can infect young infants. 
Our data show that aP-vaccinated animals are infected and transmit pertussis to naïve contacts. Consistent with these findings, seroepidemiological studies have concluded that B. pertussis circulation is still high in countries with excellent aP uptake (27, 50), and a crosssectional study showed that postpartum aP vaccination of mothers did not reduce pertussis illness in young infants”
Did you read that? Those who are vaccinated are infected and can transmit pertussis.
The idea of cocooning is being disproven so often that Australia has pulled their funding of the cocooning strategy.
At the end of the day, the choice to vaccinate yourself is up to you. And, people are beginning to take that choice upon themselves. The French continued to question vaccine safety, and they remain one of the leading countries of vaccination skeptics. Even with 58% of French doctors questioning the usefulness of vaccines, France continues to see only about 300 cases of pertussis per year.
Ask questions.
Be like France.
Until next time,

Author: Savannah Baker

Savannah is a full-time mom of one, and can often be found outside on one of her various adventures. She enjoys carving her own path through natural and holistic living, as well as discovering ways to use food as medicine.

  • tracey bowden

    Very interesting. I believe in people making the choice to do what is right for them but personally for me if it is recommended and can prevent illnesses I would take it and will do the same for my daughter #kcacols

  • Harriet Miller

    It is a very personal issue and everyone must do what they believe to be right. I’m all for vaccines. I trust and believe in science and medicine. When I’m ill, I take antibiotics, or other such medicine, so I’m not going to turn down any preventive drugs. Relying on everyone else being vaccinated, in my opinion, is too risky. #KCACOLS

  • Cecile Blaireau

    Sorry to say that I am very French! As you pointed it in your post, I don’t believe in that kind of vaccines! I didn’t get the flu vaccine either. It’s a illness that people lived for ages with and not dangerous for the baby. We live in a world of big pharmaceutic agencies that make millions out of vaccines each year! Baba had none either. The meningetis one they ask you to do is protecting you against one strain (i might be wrong, but more than 15 exist!)… Very interesting post. I am personlay against vaccines but I think it’s a personal choice and people should not judge whoever decide not to do it… Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday.

  • The Hippy Christian Mum

    I enjoyed reading this, I like your style of writing. I think with any big decision like this the important thing is to research it, as you have, that you maybe able to make some kind of informed decision. For me, I had whooping cough as a child so I was 1st in line for this particular vaccine during my pregnancy last year. When I was pregnant in 2010 they were offering swine flu vaccinations which I worried over quite a bit. #KCACOLS

    • I definitely understand your worry over the swine flu vaccine, that’s one that I definitely decline. I’m so sorry to hear that you suffered from whooping cough as a child, how awful that must’ve been for you! Informed decisions really are the BEST! It’s good to feel confident in your decision. Thanks for reading <3 #kcacols

  • Ellie Augustin

    Good to be informed as a mama of 4 and my youngest a preemie I did LOADS of research and for us it’s YES a must and happy we have.

    • I definitely agree, Ellie, it is so good to have knowledge on your side! I’m glad that you did your homework and made the best decision for your family, and I hope your little preemie is doing well today! <3 Thanks so much for reading

  • Mary mozingo

    I wish I would have read this a long time ago! Very useful information!

  • Tyane Milem

    Interesting read. I will share this with some of my expectant friends!

  • Kate

    it is so good to be informed!

  • Candy Kage

    Very interesting read and will share with friends who are expecting or trying so they can decide.

  • Well done! Very well written and documented! 🙂

  • Great job!

  • Great job!

  • Excellent article! Thank you for sharing!