Tdap vaccine

The Tdap vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough). All of these are serious, potentially deadly illnesses caused by bacteria.

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Tdap is recommended as a booster to the DTaP vaccine in people ages 11 - 64. It is given by a shot (injection), usually into the arm or thigh.

Tdap vaccine should be given to children between ages 11 or 12. Adults ages 19 to 64 should receive one dose of Tdap instead of the Td vaccine, then have Td boosters every 10 years.

If you had the Td vaccine in the last 10 years, ask your doctor if you also need the Tdap vaccine to protect you against whooping cough.

Because this vaccine protects against pertussis, the following people should make sure they are up to date with their Tdap immunization, regardless of age:

  • Adults who are in contact with infants under 12 months (regardless of when you last received a Td vaccine)
  • New mothers who have never received Tdap (during pregnancy, Td is usually preferred over Tdap)
  • Health care workers who are in direct contact with patients (Tdap can normally be given as early as 2 years after you receive the Td vaccine; the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices suggests that it be given even sooner in health care workers.)

Children and adults who have had a severe cut or burn may need Tdap to protect against tetanus infection.


Tdap may cause the following mild side effects, which usually last only a few days:

  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Redness or swelling at the injection site
  • Soreness at the injection site


You should not get the Tdap vaccine if you:

  • Have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the vaccine
  • Have a severe allergy to any ingredient in the vaccine
  • Went into a coma or had a seizure within 7 days after receiving the DTaP vaccine

Talk to your health care provider before getting the Tdap vaccine if you or your child:

  • Have epilepsy or another nervous system problem
  • Had severe swelling or pain after receiving any vaccination containing tetanus, diphtheria, or pertussis
  • Have had Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Have a severe allergy to latex

If you or your child has a moderate or severe illness, you can delay Tdap vaccination until the illness is gone. People with a mild illness can usually still receive the vaccination.

If you cannot take the pertussis vaccine (for example, because of an allergic reaction), you should still receive a vaccine against diphtheria and tetanus (DT for children and Td for adults).


  • You are not sure whether your child should get this vaccine
  • You or your child develops severe symptoms after a vaccination, such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, hives, weakness, or dizziness
  • You have questions or concerns about Tdap


Tdap is not the same as DTaP. They both protect against the same diseases, but are given at different times. For information on DTaP, see: DTaP immunization.

Alternative Names

Tdap immunization


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-18 years---United States, 2011. MMWR. 2011;60(5).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended adult immunization schedule---United States, 2011. MMWR. 2011;60(4).

Committee on Infectious Diseases. Policy Statement Recommended Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedules—United States, 2011. Pediatrics. 2011 Feb;127(2):387-388.

Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Recommended adult immunization schedule: United States, 2010. Ann Intern Med. 2010;152(1):36-39.

Update Date: 2/21/2012

Reviewed by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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