When to Get Tdap Vaccine: Protection, Recommendation and More

Tdap is a combination vaccine that immunizes against three serious bacterial diseases that once ran rampant throughout the United States: tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (whooping cough). The Tdap vaccine is a booster immunization that complements DTaP, the vaccine that helps babies and children younger than age seven develop immunity to the same three diseases. As children get older, the protection offered by the DTaP series starts to wear off. Tdap offers older children, teens and adults continued protection from these diseases.

  • Tetanus. Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is a disease caused by bacteria often found in soil. The bacteria enter the body through a wound in the skin and release a toxin that attacks the nervous system. Tetanus can cause painful muscle spasms which may lead to obstructed breathing, paralysis and death in up to 20% of cases.
  • Diphtheria. Diphtheria is a highly contagious respiratory disease spread by coughing and sneezing. It causes the formation of a thick membrane at the back of the nose or throat which can make it difficult to breathe or swallow. Diphtheria can lead to paralysis, heart failure and death in up to 10% of cases.
  • Pertussis (whooping cough). Pertussis continues to be a health concern even in the United States. It is easily spread through coughing and sneezing, and causes severe coughing spasms that make it difficult for babies to eat, drink or breathe. Complications include pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death, especially in babies younger than three months of age.

Tdap Vaccine Recommendations

All children should receive a series of DTaP at ages 2, 4, and 6 months, with a booster at ages 15-18 months and 4-6 years. The fourth dose may be given as early as age 12 months if at least 6 months have elapsed since the third dose. Preteens should receive a single dose of Tdap at their 11- or 12-year-old visit.

Teens and adults who have not received a dose of Tdap, or for whom immunization status is unknown, should receive a single dose of Tdap as soon as possible. It is especially important for healthcare workers, caretakers and others who come in close contact with babies to be vaccinated. Pregnant women should receive a dose of Tdap during each pregnancy, even if they have been vaccinated previously, to protect their baby from whopping cough. Women who have never received Tdap and who do not receive it during pregnancy should receive it as soon as possible.

Get Vaccinated at RediClinic

Unless a medical or religious exemption has been approved, students entering junior high and high school will be required to provide proof of Tdap vaccination prior to starting school. Beat the rush and get your child vaccinated today at RediClinic. We also offer back-to-school physicals administered by board-certified clinicians. No appointment is necessary, and care is available seven days a week with extended weekday hours.

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