Munson Health
Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis Vaccine

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by McCoy K

( Tdap)


What does this vaccine help prevent?

This vaccine helps prevent:
  • Diphtheria—which causes a sore throat with thick covering in the back of the throat
  • Tetanus—which causes painful muscle tightening all over the body; also known as lockjaw
  • Pertussis—which causes bad coughing spells that make it difficult for infants to eat, drink, and breathe; also known as whooping cough

What Are the Risks Associated With the Pertussis Vaccine?

Most people tolerate the vaccines without any trouble. The most common side effects are:
Uncommon symptoms include:
  • Fever over 102ºF
  • Severe gastrointestinal problems
  • Severe headache
Acetaminophen is sometimes given to reduce pain and fever that may occur after getting a vaccine. In infants, the medication may weaken the vaccine's effectiveness. However, in children at risk for seizures, a fever lowering medication may be important to take. Discuss the risks and benefits of taking acetaminophen with your doctor.

Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?

Most people should receive their vaccinations on schedule. However, individuals in whom the risks of vaccination outweigh the benefits include people who:
Talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine if you have:
  • Epilepsy or other nervous system problems
  • Severe swelling or severe pain after a previous dose of any component of the vaccination to be given
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Moderate or severe illness —wait until you recover to get the vaccine


American Academy of Pediatrics

Vaccines & Immunizations
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FDA approval of expanded age indication for a tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011;60(37):1279-1280.

Vaccinations for adults. Immunization Action Coalition website. Available at: Updated August 2014. Accessed August 27, 2014.

Fisman DN, Tang P, Hauck T, Richardson S, Drews SJ, Low DE, Jamieson F. Pertussis resurgence in Toronto, Canada: a population-based study including test-incidence feedback modeling. BMC Public Health. 2011;11:694.

Friedrich MJ. Research aims to boost pertussis control. JAMA. 2011;306(1):27-29.

Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Immunization Program website. Available at: Updated July 29, 2014. Accessed August 27, 2014.

Tdap vaccine: what you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated May 9, 2013. Accessed August 27, 2014.

10/30/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Prymula R, Siegrist C, Chlibek R, et al. Effect of prophylactic paracetamol administration at time of vaccination on febrile reactions and antibody responses in children: two open-label, randomised controlled trials. Lancet. 2009;374(9698):1339.

11/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Updated recommendations for use of tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap) in pregnant women and persons who have or anticipate having close contact with an infant aged <12 months—Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2011. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011;60:1424-1426.

4/1/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Bridges CB, Coyne-Beasley T, et al. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended immunization schedule for adults aged 19 years or older—United States, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014. 63(7):110-112.


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