Is the TDAP Vaccine safe?

PC Diary @ 28W 1D

Is the TDAP Vaccine safe?  This is a question I asked myself AFTER I had the vaccine when it was offered to me at my 28 week appointment. How unlike me to not look into it before hand!!!?!

I was given a bundle of information at my first OB appointment – it all went into a folder and I occasionally check through it to see what is coming up next in my pregnancy.  It is pretty handy!  But for some reason I didn’t bother reading the info about the TDAP Vaccine.  Why?  Well I thought, I’ve had it before so – blah. whatever.

What is the TDAP vaccine? It’s a combination vaccine to protect against Tetanus, Diptheria and Whooping cough (Pertussis).  Well that is where I made my first mistake.  In 2007 I had a Tetanus, Diptheria and POLIO vaccine. Not Pertussis.  Silly Ps.  Anyway that is irrelevant because that needs a booster every ten years or so if you are travelling to some countries, so it was about due.  But actually here the issue is the Pertussis part – whooping cough.  This is the part that pediatricians are most worried about.  Babies can’t get vaccinated and start building protection against whooping cough until they are two months old. So to reduce this gap the mummy gets the vaccine during the third trimester of her pregnancy as there is some evidence that immunity may be passed on to baby.  They also ask for dads, grandparents, caretakers etc visiting the baby in the early 2 months to also have the TDAP vaccine – to create a safety bubble around the baby.  It all makes sense.

So when I was offered the vaccine I said – sure, yes! And signed my life away to receive it.  I also said yes to getting the flu vaccine too.  I have never had a flu vaccine before but thought as I am responsible for the baby I’m carrying I should probably get that too.  So I had one injection in each arm.  They were painless.  In fact, anything compared to Progesterone in oil injections seems easy!  The nurse asked which arm I would like my TDAP in because it can get a bit sore.  So I asked for that one in my left arm.

Several hours later my arm started to ache as the nurse warned me.  The arm with my flu shot also was sore a little bit, so sleeping was proving problematic.  I like sleeping on my side so I struggled to get comfortable and had the worst night’s sleep EVER.  Half way through the night I woke up in extreme pain, I was crying.  My left arm had gone practically numb and the rest of my body ached like I had run a marathon.  The next time I woke up (an hour later or so) the whole of my left side of my body was numb and tingly.  What the ??!!  I was exhausted and couldn’t face going into work.  I was achey and shivery.  I took a warm Epsom salt bath and a couple of paracetamol (acetaminophen) -the first time this pregnancy I have needed any drugs!  The internet suggested Ibuprofen, but we know that is not recommended so I stuck with the paracetamol.  After the bath I fell asleep for an hour and woke up feeling much much better.  the drugs, sleep and heat must have worked!  So I decided to take myself off to work because I had a lot to do and didn’t want to fall behind.  Honestly, it wasn’t a great day at work, I would have done better working from home, but Chris was already working from home so that wouldn’t have worked out.

I came home from work feeling like crap.  I wondered if this was normal.  So I decided to read the info about the TDAP vaccine.  Oh yeh – this can happen to 1 in 10 people who take it. WHAAAT?!  So I then looked into it more online to see how people were fighting these side effects.  Then I discovered the articles about TDAP in pregnant women.  Seriously, googling this stuff had me FREAKED out.  I came across websites dedicated to the dangers of TDAP in pregnant women.  That the CDC was citing one trial on 48 women in 2013.  Even I know that is statistically a pile of CRAP especially as this is about the effects on the unborn baby, not the woman.  The recommendation for women to have this vaccine in their third trimester has only been around since 2012.

Headlines like: “TDAP vaccine pushed on pregnant women despite fetal risks” and “Is your unborn baby part of a vaccine experiment?” are some of the first to come up on google results.

So I started to freak out at my lack of due diligence.  I had no clue when taking the vaccine how long it had been recommended for or what the evidence was.  I asked Chris – did I just do something naively? Was this something new?  Was I part of an experiment?

But after some more searching, I discovered that a lot of these stories are old and pre-date some much bigger studies that have been done over the past two years and recently published in 2015 and 2016.  You have to look hard to find these, I guess because of google’s algorithms with popularity the hype stories and anti-vaccine pages come up first.  Which is disappointing.  Here are two recent studies that show that the vaccine is safe, with much more confidence than the CDC had in 2013.

Pertussis vaccination in pregnancy is safe, study finds and Infant outcomes after exposure to TDAP vaccine in pregnancy: an observational study.

Admittedly, scientists do say if the baby is exposed to whooping cough early on, there is a good chance the baby will still get whooping cough, but evidence indicates that if mummy had her vaccine in the third trimester the symptoms will be less severe or life threatening.  So something to be aware of.

I only discovered all of this because I had a side effect to the vaccination, otherwise I wouldn’t have questioned it or thought otherwise!  I’m pro-vaccinations.  The only vaccination I ever turned down was anthrax, just before I deployed to Iraq.  Why?  Because even the Army nurse said I wouldn’t bother if I were you.  Chris and I both want our children to be vaccinated as our pediatrician recommends, but perhaps I will be a bit smarter about reading up on what is actually being given to my baby – just so I can have an informed debate on the whole vaccination thing with people who don’t vaccinate their kids.

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12 thoughts on “Is the TDAP Vaccine safe?

  1. andthewindscreamsmary says:

    Oh goodness! I’m sorry you had such a rough experience. I got my flu shot at 29 weeks, and Tdap at 33 weeks – I did not want to do them together because I was afraid of being sore and treated like a pin cushion. Anyway, after the Tdap I had a bit of soreness but nothing like what you experienced. That sounds scary.
    As for the safety, I was given a nifty handout from my doctor for me to read about when deciding whether or not to take the shot, and I did my own research – like you came across many scary websites but I felt like it was mostly fear mongering. The pediatrician we picked also asked about that during our meet and greet as well, and in his opinion recommended we get it as the antibodies can be passed now while in utero and during breastfeeding. My husband also got the shot as did my parents. My husbands parents are hedging a bit, but that’s another story.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. 30yr old nothing says:

    Interesting that people around the baby should get vaccinated as well. I think I would leave that conversation up to my husband lol.
    I’m sorry you had a bad reaction. I’m currently still in pain from my first ever flu shot. A huge painful lump that is warm to the touch. But yours sounds awful. I’m glad it’s all over now.
    I read a lot about vaccines trying to understand why people don’t vaccinate. I was on the fence for a while but now I’m back to pro-vaccinating. But I do agree that learning as much as possible is necessary.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. g2the4thpower says:

    I pushed to get it done (actually paid out of pocket, and against my doctor’s advice) when I was at about 32 weeks. For me it wasn’t worth the risk. Too many non vaxxers out there, freaking me out about my risks during pregnancy and my baby’s risks before she would be old enough for her own vaccine (so she could at least get something helpful through the womb & breast milk). I had my parents & in-laws also get it done, as well as my partner.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amy M. says:

    I don’t know anyone that has been pregnant that hasn’t gotten this vax. Mine hurt pretty bad, for a week. It swelled up and was painful to the touch. I’m guessing that the fact that you also got the flu vax on the same day made your reaction worse. Your immune system was taking on two things at once, while already down because of being pregnant to begin with. I refused the flu vax, simply because the only other 2 times I’ve gotten it, I’ve gotten sick for a week. Either way, it’s better you are protected and therefor protecting your little one on the inside as well. Hope you’re feeling better now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thegreatpuddingclubhunt says:

      Ouchie – I had no clue that it could do that to someone! Yes, having the flu hot at the same time prob wasn’t the most sensible thing, but the nurse said it was OK. Haha I will have to tell her next time I see her!

      Everyone I know who has the flu in the last few years had the flu shot! I’ve avoided it until now (touch wood!!)

      Like

  5. Nara says:

    I had flu and whooping cough as that’s what they recommend in the uk. I didn’t even think about it. And I had exactly what you had! I wasn’t crying but I was in a sh**load of pain and it was really awful. I had to keep dosing on paracetamol. I was so upset that nobody told me how much it would hurt! I do believe in vaccinations though and if healthy people don’t do it then we risk the health of the weaker members of society (like our soon to be born babies). So for that reason I think it’s our duty to do it. Did not console me when I was in immense pain though!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Que Milagro says:

    I was vehement that everyone get TDAP before Amora’s birth and I’m glad I did. She got a cold at around 4-6 weeks and it was awful. Can’t imagine dealing with something more serious. I read an amazing article the other day that discussed how vaccines are getting safer and safer even as they vaccinate against more and more diseases and increasingly come in “bundles” like TDAP, which vaccinates against multiple diseases like you said. I am strongly pro-vax as one of my close friends has a son who recently had a double lung transplant. Obviously he has a compromised immune system so he depends on herd immunity, literally, to stay ALIVE. I’m all about that crunchy granola mom life but I can’t comprehend putting other people’S babies at risk (not to say being crunchy means you’re anti-vax).

    Liked by 1 person

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