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The Tdap Vaccine: Everything You Need To Know

When you think about immunizations, you often think of children. While many of the immunizations you received as a child protected you against certain diseases for a lifetime, there are a few that don’t – diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

Tetanus and diphtheria are rare in the U.S. today, but pertussis (or whooping cough), which all but disappeared in the 1980s, is making a comeback. The Tdap vaccine helps protect adults from all three diseases and the spread to infants and young children.

The Diseases in Detail

  • Tetanus is a serious bacterial infection that can occur from being punctured by an object such as a rusty nail or if a wound is contaminated with dirt. Tetanus can cause serious complications such as lockjaw and impaired breathing or swallowing. It is a rare infection but is very serious and life-threatening when it occurs.
  • Diphtheria is a contagious bacterial infection that is transmitted person-to-person and can cause a severe sore throat and swelling of the airway. Diphtheria can impair breathing and result in death.
  • Pertussis is a very contagious bacterial disease that is spread person-to-person and is the cause of whooping cough. Whooping cough infections can often take several weeks or more to recover from and may be very serious or life-threatening to newborn babies who have not been vaccinated yet.

Who Should Get Vaccinated?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends the following receive the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine:

  • Young children (2, 4, 6 and 15 months and 4-6 years of age)
  • Preteens (11 to 12 years of age)
  • Pregnant women (Between 27 and 36 weeks)
  • Adults (Every 10 years after first dose)
  • Caregivers of infants under 1 years old
  • Healthcare workers who have direct patient contact

“It’s very important for pregnant women to get a dose, so the mother can pass protection against whooping cough to their baby at birth,” said Grant Taylor, DO, a family medicine physician at Banner Health Center. “And, you’ll also want to make sure anyone who is caring for your little one is vaccinated too, since your baby will not receive their first dose until 2 months old.”

Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?

Every vaccine comes with a chance of some side effects. “Fortunately, side effects are generally mild, such as redness, pain and swelling at the injection site, but most usually resolve themselves,” Dr. Taylor said. “The CDC estimates the chances of a reaction are 1 in a million doses.”

Although negative side effects of the Tdap vaccine are extremely rare, you shouldn’t get the vaccine if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the past or had a coma or seizure within a week of a childhood dose of DTaP or a previous dose of Tdap.

How Often Should I Get a Booster?

As referenced above, all adults who did not receive the DTaP as an adolescent or the Tdap as a preteen, should receive a dose of the vaccine. Once that first dose has been administered, a Tdap booster should be given every 10 years.

Where Can I Get the Vaccine?

Are you in need of your Tdap booster shot? “Your primary care physician’s office is usually the best place to receive the recommended vaccination for you and your family,” Dr. Taylor said, “and most private health insurances cover them.”

If you are unable to get in for your vaccine, it may available at your local pharmacy, community health clinics and other community locations, such as schools or religious centers.

If you are looking for a primary care provider, find an experienced Banner Health medical expert in your area. Visit bannerhealth.com.

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