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Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine - what you need to know

All content below is taken in its entirety from the CDC Tdap Vaccine Information Statement (VIS): www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/tdap.pdf

CDC review information for Tdap VIS:

Content source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases

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WHY GET VACCINATED?

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%.

Tdap VACCINE

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.

SOME PEOPLE SHOULD NOT GET THIS VACCINE

A person who has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a previous dose of any diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis containing vaccine, OR has a severe allergy to any part of this vaccine, should not get Tdap vaccine. Tell the person giving the vaccine about any severe allergies.

Anyone who had coma or long repeated seizures within 7 days after a childhood dose of DTP or DTaP, or a previous dose of Tdap, should not get Tdap, unless a cause other than the vaccine was found. They can still get Td.

Talk to your doctor if you:

RISKS OF A REACTION TO THE VACCINE

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.

Mild problems following Tdap (Did not interfere with activities)

Moderate problems following Tdap (Interfered with activities, but did not require medical attention)

Severe problems following Tdap (Unable to perform usual activities; required medical attention)

Problems that could happen after any vaccine:

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/index.html.

WHAT IF THERE IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM?

What should I look for?

Look for anything that concerns you, such as signs of a severe allergic reaction, very high fever, or unusual behavior.

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.

What should I do?

If you think it is a severe allergic reaction or other emergency that can’t wait, call 9-1-1 or get the person to the nearest hospital. Otherwise, call your doctor.

Afterward, the reaction should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS web site at www.vaers.hhs.gov/, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.

VAERS does not give medical advice.

THE NATIONAL VACCINE INJURY COMPENSATION PROGRAM

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.vaccine-compensation/index.html. There is a time limit to file a claim for compensation.

HOW CAN I LEARN MORE?

Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

References

Vaccine information statement: Tdap vaccine (Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/tdap.pdf. Accessed April 21, 2015.

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Review Date: 2/24/2015  

Reviewed By: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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