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The Components of the Tdap Vaccine

Tetanus

Also called lockjaw, tetanus cases in the U.S. are on the decline thanks to vaccinations. Tetanus causes painful muscle tightening and stiffness all over the body. It can cause the head and neck muscles to tense, preventing an individual from opening their mouth, swallowing or even breathing.

Diphtheria

Diphtheria is rare in the U.S. today thanks to vaccinations. It attacks healthy tissues in the respiratory system and creates a thick coating of dead tissues in the nose, tonsils, voice box and throat. Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis and death.

Pertussis

Also called whooping cough, pertussis causes severe coughing spells, which can lead to difficulty breathing, vomiting and disturbed sleep. It can also lead to weight loss, incontinence or rib fractures. Up to 2 in 100 adolescents and 5 in 100 adults with pertussis are hospitalized with complications.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The following frequently asked questions were created following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Tdap is the combined vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, three very serious bacterial diseases.

    • Tetanus (also called lockjaw) is rare in the United States today. It is an infection that causes painful muscle tightening and stiffness, usually all over the body. It can lead the muscles in the head and neck to tense, preventing the individual from opening his or her mouth, swallowing or sometimes even breathing. Tetanus kills about 1 in 10 people who are infected, even after receiving the best medical care.
    • Diphtheria is also rare in the United States today. It attacks healthy tissues in the respiratory system and creates a thick coating of dead tissues in the nose, tonsils, voice box and throat. It can lead to breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis and even death.
    • Pertussis (whooping cough) causes severe coughing spells, which can cause difficulty breathing, vomiting and disturbed sleep. It can also lead to weight loss, incontinence and rib fractures. Up to 2 in 100 adolescents and 5 in 100 adults with pertussis are hospitalized or have complications, which can include pneumonia or death.

    Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person through secretions from coughing or sneezing. Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches or wounds.

    The Tdap vaccine can protect us from all of these diseases. When given to pregnant women, the Tdap vaccine can protect newborn babies against pertussis.

    Before vaccines, as many as 200,000 cases of diphtheria, 200,000 cases of pertussis and hundreds of cases of tetanus were reported in the United States each year. Since vaccination began, reports for tetanus and diphtheria have dropped by about 99%, and pertussis reports have dropped by about 80%.

    The Tdap vaccine can protect adolescents and adults from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. One dose of Tdap is routinely given at age 11 or 12. People who did not get the Tdap vaccine at that age should get it as soon as possible. In addition to the initial dose of Tdap, adults should receive a Td or Tdap booster every 10 years.

    Receiving the vaccine is especially important for healthcare professionals and anyone who will be in close contact with a baby younger than 12 months.

    Pregnant women should get a dose of Tdap during every pregnancy to protect the newborn from pertussis. Infants are most at risk for severe, life-threatening complications from pertussis.

    The Tdap vaccine can protect adolescents and adults from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

    Another vaccine, known as Td, protects against tetanus and diphtheria, but not pertussis. A Td booster should be given every 10 years. Tdap may be given as one of these boosters if you have never before received the Tdap vaccine. Tdap may also be given after a severe cut or burn to prevent tetanus infection.

Other Recommended Vaccines

Are you up to date on all your vaccines? While getting your Tdap vaccine, you can also get vaccinated for COVID-19, RSV, HPV, shingles and more.

COVID-19 Vaccine

We’re offering the new COVID-19 vaccine so you can stay up to date with the latest guidance.

RSV Vaccine

Pregnant patients and adults ages 60+ may need a vaccine for RSV prevention.

HPV Vaccine

Human Papillomavirus is a common STI that may cause various health problems.

Shingles Vaccine

If you’re over 50, it may be time for your herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine.

Tools & Resources

Services and availability vary by location. Pharmacy, Clinic, and Telenutrition services are available in select areas. Access our pharmacy locator to find a pharmacy near you. The Little Clinic practices in the following states only: AZ, KY, OH, TN, CO, IN, GA, KS, VA. Access our clinic locator to find a clinic near you. Telenutrition services where medical nutrition therapy is provided are not available in AK, MT, NJ, NY, SC, WY, or where otherwise prohibited by applicable law.