Most people are familiar with the tetanus shot, but if you’ve heard about the Tdap vaccine, you’re probably wondering what it is, and why your doctor is suggesting it for you or your child.
“We say ‘tetanus,’ but there are two to three parts of the tetanus vaccine. There’s a Td vaccine, which protects against tetanus and diphtheria, and is the standard booster shot that adults would get; but, within the last five to 10 years, we've started giving adults the Tdap vaccine” says Jill Manahan MD, of Queen City Physicians – Hyde Park.
What is the Tdap Vaccine?
Tdap is recommended as a booster to the DTaP vaccine in people ages 11 through 64. DTaP is a combination vaccine that protects against three bacterial illnesses: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough). It is administered through the arm or thigh.
Kids receive the DTaP immunization five times throughout their childhood, at the following ages:
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 15-18 months
- 4-6 years
Before DTaP, these diseases often led to serious medical problems, and even death.
On the other hand, “recently, there have been whooping cough outbreaks in the younger schools because the pertussis, or whooping cough, vaccine wanes in immunity as we age,” Dr. Manahan explains. So, the Tdap booster combats this as well.
How Does the Tdap Vaccine Benefit Adults?
The standard tetanus-diphtheria vaccine tends to diminish in protectiveness, as well. "So, at least once in adulthood, you're supposed to have the Tdap vaccine," Dr. Manahan points out.
The Tdap vaccine is usually administered in adults around age 19, right before an individual heads off to college. Then, the tetanus-diphtheria (Td) booster is given every 10 years.
Can Pregnant Women receive the Tdap Vaccine?
Yes, after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If you did not receive the vaccine during pregnancy, it is suggested for new moms, especially because it protects against whooping cough, which is highly contagious.