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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis) Vaccine: What You Need to Know
Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are very serious diseases. Tdap vaccine can protect us from these diseases. And Tdap vaccine given to pregnant women can protect newborn babies against pertussis.
Tetanus (lockjaw) is rare in the United States today. It causes painful muscle tightening and stiffness, usually all over the body.
Diphtheria is also rare in the United States today. It can cause a thick coating to form in the back of the throat.
Pertussis (whooping cough) causes severe coughing spells, which can cause difficulty breathing, vomiting, and disturbed sleep.
These diseases are caused by bacteria. Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person through secretions from coughing or sneezing. Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches, or wounds.
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 of cases for tetanus and diphtheria have dropped by about 99% and for pertussis 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 Tdap at that age should get it as soon as possible.
Tdap is especially important for health care professionals and anyone having 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.
Another vaccine, called 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 gotten Tdap before. Tdap may also be given after a severe cut or burn to prevent tetanus infection.
Your doctor or the person giving you the vaccine can give you more information.
Tdap may safely be given at the same time as other vaccines.
With any medicine, including vaccines, there is a chance of side effects. These are usually mild and go away on their own. Serious reactions are also possible but are rare.
Most people who get Tdap vaccine do not have any problems with it.
(Did not interfere with activities)
(Interfered with activities, but did not require medical attention)
(Unable to perform usual activities; required medical attention)
As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death.
The safety of vaccines is always being monitored. For more information, visit: www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety.
Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would usually start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
VAERS does not give medical advice.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines.
Persons who believe they may have been injured by a vaccine can learn about the program and about filing a claim by calling 1-800-338-2382 or visiting the VICP website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation. There is a time limit to file a claim for compensation.
Vaccine Information Statement (Interim)
42 U.S.C. § 300aa-26
Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Many Vaccine Information Statements are available in Spanish and other languages. See www.immunize.org/vis.
Muchas hojas de información sobre vacunas están disponibles en español y en otros idiomas. Visite www.immunize.org/vis.
Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
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