The Tdap Vaccine

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*Vaccine availability and administration capabilities vary by location and state regulation.

The Components of the Tdap Vaccine

Pertussis

Pertussis (whooping cough) causes severe coughing spells, which can lead to difficulty breathing, vomiting and disturbed sleep. It can also lead to weight loss, incontinence or rib fractures. Up to 2 in 100 adolescents and 5 in 100 adults with pertussis are hospitalized with complications.

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Tetanus

The number of tetanus cases (also called lockjaw) in the United States is on decline thanks to the progress and convenience of vaccinations. Tetanus is an infection that causes painful muscle tightening and stiffness, usually all over the body. It can lead the muscles in the head and neck to tense, preventing the individual from opening his or her mouth, swallowing or, sometimes, breathing.

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Diphtheria

Diphtheria is rare in the United States today thanks to vaccinations. It attacks healthy tissues in the respiratory system and creates a thick coating of dead tissues in the nose, tonsils, voice box and throat. Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis and even death.

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Pertussis

Pertussis (whooping cough) causes severe coughing spells, which can lead to difficulty breathing, vomiting and disturbed sleep. It can also lead to weight loss, incontinence or rib fractures. Up to 2 in 100 adolescents and 5 in 100 adults with pertussis are hospitalized with complications.

Schedule an Appointment

Tetanus

The number of tetanus cases (also called lockjaw) in the United States is on decline thanks to the progress and convenience of vaccinations. Tetanus is an infection that causes painful muscle tightening and stiffness, usually all over the body. It can lead the muscles in the head and neck to tense, preventing the individual from opening his or her mouth, swallowing or, sometimes, breathing.

Schedule an Appointment

Tdap Frequently Asked Questions

The following frequently asked questions were created following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Tdap is the combined vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, three very serious bacterial diseases.

    • Tetanus (also called lockjaw) is rare in the United States today. It is an infection that causes painful muscle tightening and stiffness, usually all over the body. It can lead the muscles in the head and neck to tense, preventing the individual from opening his or her mouth, swallowing or sometimes even breathing. Tetanus kills about 1 in 10 people who are infected, even after receiving the best medical care.
    • Diphtheria is also rare in the United States today. It attacks healthy tissues in the respiratory system and creates a thick coating of dead tissues in the nose, tonsils, voice box and throat. It can lead to breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis and even death.
    • Pertussis (whooping cough) causes severe coughing spells, which can cause difficulty breathing, vomiting and disturbed sleep. It can also lead to weight loss, incontinence and rib fractures. Up to 2 in 100 adolescents and 5 in 100 adults with pertussis are hospitalized or have complications, which can include pneumonia or death.

    Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person through secretions from coughing or sneezing. Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches or wounds.

    The Tdap vaccine can protect us from all of these diseases. When given to pregnant women, the Tdap vaccine can protect newborn babies against pertussis.

    Before vaccines, as many as 200,000 cases of diphtheria, 200,000 cases of pertussis and hundreds of cases of tetanus were reported in the United States each year. Since vaccination began, reports for tetanus and diphtheria have dropped by about 99%, and pertussis reports have dropped by about 80%.

    The Tdap vaccine can protect adolescents and adults from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. One dose of Tdap is routinely given at age 11 or 12. People who did not get the Tdap vaccine at that age should get it as soon as possible.

    Receiving the vaccine is especially important for healthcare professionals and anyone who will be in close contact with a baby younger than 12 months.

    Pregnant women should get a dose of Tdap during every pregnancy to protect the newborn from pertussis. Infants are most at risk for severe, life-threatening complications from pertussis.

    The Tdap vaccine can protect adolescents and adults from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

    Another vaccine, known as Td, protects against tetanus and diphtheria, but not pertussis. A Td booster should be given every 10 years. Tdap may be given as one of these boosters if you have never before received the Tdap vaccine. Tdap may also be given after a severe cut or burn to prevent tetanus infection.

Other Important Vaccines

Are you up to date on all your vaccines? While getting your Tdap vaccine, you can also get vaccinated for influenza, shingles, pneumonia and more.

See Our Adult Vaccine Checklist

Tools & Resources

Tdap Vaccine Information

The Tdap vaccine is a combination vaccine that protects you against three separate diseases: tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. On this page, we’ll go over some important information regarding Tdap and answer a number of common questions about the vaccine.

What is Tdap?

Tdap refers to the booster vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whopping cough). Rather than needing a tetanus vaccine, diphtheria vaccine and pertussis vaccine individually, the Tdap shot protects you against all three at once. Another option is the Td vaccine, which protects against tetanus and diphtheria, but not pertussis.

Who Should Get a Tdap Vaccine?

The Tdap vaccine is available to adolescents and adults. One dose of Tdap is routinely given at age 11 or 12. Individuals who did not get Tdap at that age should get it as soon as possible.

Receiving the vaccine is especially important for healthcare professionals and anyone who will be in close contact with an infant younger than 12 months. Women should get a dose of Tdap during every pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Tdap vaccine and how long is Tdap good for? We’ve addressed some of the most common questions you’re likely to have about the Tdap vaccine. Read through our Frequently Asked Questions section above to learn more. If you have further questions, please contact your local pharmacy or clinic and speak with one of our knowledgeable healthcare providers.

Other Important Vaccines

Are you up to date on all of your vaccines? While getting your Tdap vaccine, you can also catch up on your flu, pneumonia or shingles vaccine. Take a look at out our adult vaccine checklist to make sure you’re up-to-date and fully protected, or head to our Vaccines Page for immunizations for the whole family.

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