The tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine helps to protect children and adults against all three diseases. When given in the recommended schedule, the Tdap vaccine helps protect almost everyone from tetanus and diphtheria and most people from pertussis.
What are tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis?
- Tetanus, or lockjaw, is a serious bacterial infection you can get if dirt from soil, dust or manure, containing the tetanus germ, gets into a cut in the skin. It does not spread from person to person. Tetanus can cause cramping of the muscles, convulsions and death.
- Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection of the nose, throat and skin, and it is spread through coughing, sneezing and skin-to-skin contact. Diphtheria causes sore throat, fever and chills and can result in breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis and death.
- Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a serious bacterial infection of the airways that occurs in people of all ages, but it can be especially severe in children. It spreads easily through coughing, sneezing or close face-to-face contact. Pertussis can cause violent coughing that ends in a “whooping” sound and may last for weeks to months. It causes vomiting and makes it hard to breathe, eat or drink. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures and brain damage. It can be fatal, especially in infants and children.
Who should get the publicly funded (free) Tdap vaccine in Ontario?
- A one-time dose of Tdap vaccine is recommended for adolescents 14-16 years of age (and up to 18) to boost their protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
- A single, life-time dose of Tdap vaccine is recommended for adults 19 years of age and older, whether they had a previous dose of Tdap in adolescence or not.
- Parents, grandparents or other adult household contacts of newborns, infants and young children, as well as health care workers, are considered priority groups for receiving the Tdap vaccine.
- The adult dose of pertussis-containing Tdap vaccine replaces one of the tetanus diphtheria (Td) booster doses that is recommended for adults every 10 years.
- Tdap vaccine should be given during every pregnancy, ideally between 27 to 32 weeks of gestation, even if the individual has already had an adult dose of Tdap vaccine (unless it was given earlier in the pregnancy before she knew she was pregnant). It is preferred at least 4 weeks before birth to give a higher level of pertussis antibody protection to the newborn infant, but it may be given from 13 weeks up to the time of delivery in special cases, such as increased risk of preterm delivery or travel.
- Tdap is also available for children after their 7th birthday, to complete an incomplete series, or for primary immunization for those 7 years of age and older.
What are the common side effects of this vaccine?
- Some people may feel sore and swollen for a few days where the needle was given.
- Some people may have general muscle aches, fever and feel tired for a day or two.
- Tylenol® or ibuprofen may be taken afterwards, as directed, to reduce discomfort or fever.
- Children under 19 yrs of age must not be given ASA, Aspirin® or salicylates.
Who should not get the Tdap vaccine?
- Anyone who has had a serious allergic reaction to this vaccine in the past, or to any component of the vaccine:
- Adacel® – tetanus toxoid, diphtheria toxoid, acellular pertussis toxoid, aluminum phosphate, 2-phenoxyethanol, formaldehyde, glutaraldehydre (Does not contain latex.)
- Boostrix® – tetanus toxoid, diphtheria toxoid, acellular pertussis toxoid, aluminum adjuvant, sodium chloride (May contain latex)
- Anyone under 4 years of age.
- Anyone with a high fever or moderate to severe illness should wait until they feel well.
- Pregnant individuals who already received a dose of Tdap before they knew they were pregnant.
- Anyone who has a
- progressive or unstable neurological disorder (e.g. uncontrolled epilepsy)
- history of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of a tetanus vaccine
- history of swelling on the brain within 7 days of receiving a pertussis vaccine
What else do I need to know?
- If you cut yourself on something unclean, you should have a booster if it has been more than 5 yrs since your last shot (as soon as possible and within 48 hrs of the injury).
- To reduce the spread of germs, sneeze or cough into a tissue or into your elbow or upper sleeve and wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 15 seconds.
When should I seek medical help after immunization?
- If you or your child experiences any unusual side effects, please seek medical attention and notify us.
- Go to Emergency at a hospital right away or call 911 if you or your child has any of the following symptoms after immunization:
- swelling of the face and neck
- problems breathing
- hives and itchy, reddened skin
Your Record of Protection
After you receive any immunization, make sure your health care provider updates your personal
immunization record. Keep it in a safe place. Please inform us of any immunizations not received here.