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Tdap Vaccine

What are Tdap infections?

Tdap vaccine protects teens from 3 diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Tetanus is caused by bacteria that live in dust and soil. The bacteria enter the body through cuts or puncture wounds in the skin. Many people associate tetanus with being punctured with a rusty piece of metal, but there are other ways to contract tetanus. Tetanus can cause spasms (painful muscle cramps) in the jaw muscle (lockjaw) and throughout the body. The spasms can cause breathing problems and paralysis of the lungs and the body. A preteen or teen with tetanus could spend weeks in the hospital in intensive care. As many as 1 out of 5 people who get tetanus die.

Diphtheria is a dangerous disease that spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing. It causes a thick coating on the back of the nose or throat that can make it hard to breathe and/or swallow. It can also cause paralysis and heart failure. About 1 out of 10 people who get diphtheria will die from it.

Pertussis (whooping cough) spreads very easily through coughing and sneezing. It can cause a bad cough that lasts for many weeks, which can make preteens and teens miss school and other activities. Whooping cough can be deadly for babies who are too young to be effectively vaccinated. Often babies get whooping cough from their older brothers or sisters, like preteens or teens, or other people in the family.

How can you get protected?

Babies and young children get shots called DTaP (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis) to protect them from diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) starting at age 6 weeks through age 6 years. But as children get older, the protection from the DTaP shots starts to wear off, or wanes. This can put your preteen or teen at risk for serious illness. The Tdap vaccine is a booster shot that protects your preteen or teen from the same diseases that DTaP does.

Is Tdap vaccine safe?

The Tdap shot has been studied very carefully and it is safe and effective. The Tdap shot can cause mild side effects, like redness and soreness in the arm where the shot was given, headache, fever, or tiredness. Learn more about Tdap safety from the CDC.