The Tdap vaccine provides protection from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).
NOTE: The Tdap vaccine is not the same as DTaP vaccine. They both protect against the same diseases, but are given at different times.
The Tdap vaccine is recommended as a booster to the DTaP vaccine in people ages 11 - 64 years old. It is given by a shot (injection), usually into the arm or thigh.
Reasons to get the Tdap Vaccine
- There are 1-3 million pertussis cases in the US each year.
- Infants are at the greatest risk of serious complications from pertussis, including death.
- Adults are the most common source of pertussis infection in infants.
- In adults, whooping cough can cause coughing spells that can affect breathing, eating, and sleeping. It can lead to cracked ribs and hospitalization.
- Pregnant women especially need to be immunized. They should get the vaccine late in the second trimester or in the third trimester.
Because this vaccine protects against pertussis, the following people should make sure they are up to date with their Tdap immunization:
- Adults who are in contact with infants under 12 months
- New mothers who have never received Tdap
- Health care workers who are in direct contact with patients
Tdap Vaccine Recommendations
For Preteens and Teens: Vaccine protection for pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria can decrease with time. Preteens should get a booster vaccine, called Tdap, at 11 or 12 years of age. Teens and young adults who didn't get a booster of Tdap as a preteen should get one dose when they visit their health care provider.
For Pregnant Women: Expectant mothers should get one dose of Tdap during each pregnancy, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks. By getting Tdap during pregnancy, maternal pertussis antibodies transfer to the newborn, likely providing protection against pertussis in early life, before the baby starts getting DTaP vaccines. Tdap will also protect the mother at time of delivery, making her less likely to transmit pertussis to her infant. If not vaccinated during pregnancy or ever before, Tdap should be given immediately postpartum, before leaving the hospital or birthing center.
For Adults: Adults 19 years of age and older who didn't get Tdap as a preteen or teen should get one dose of Tdap. Getting vaccinated with Tdap at least two weeks before coming into close contact with an infant is especially important for families with and caregivers of new infants.
Adults get Tdap in place of one of their regular tetanus boosters—the Td shot that is recommended for adults every 10 years. However, the dose of Tdap can be given no matter when the last Td shot was received. It's a good idea for adults to talk to a health care provider about what's best for their specific situation.
The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated. Parents can also help protect infants by keeping them away as much as possible from anyone who has cold symptoms or is coughing
Reference: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)