1. Why get vaccinated?

Children 6 years of age and younger are routinely vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. But older children, adolescents, and adults need protection from these diseases too. Td (Tetanus, Diphtheria) and Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis) vaccines provide that protection.

TETANUS (Lockjaw) causes painful muscle spasms, usually all over the body.

DIPHTHERIA causes a thick covering in the back of the throat.

PERTUSSIS (Whooping Cough) causes severe coughing spells, vomiting, and disturbed sleep.

These three diseases are all caused by bacteria. Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person. Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches, or wounds.

The United States averaged more than 1,300 cases of tetanusand 175,000 cases of diphtheria each year before vaccines. Since vaccines have been available, tetanus cases have fallen by over 96% and diphtheria cases by over 99.9%.

Before 2005, only children younger than than 7 years of age could get pertussis vaccine. In 2004 there were more than 8,000 cases of pertussis in the U.S. among adolescents and more than 7,000 cases among adults.

2. Td and Tdap vaccines

Note: At this time, Tdap is licensed for only one lifetime dose per person. Td is given every 10 years, and more often if needed.

These vaccines can be used in three ways: 1) as catch-up for people who did not get all their doses of DTaP or DTP when they were children, 2) as a booster dose every 10 years, and 3) for protection against tetanus infection after a wound.

3. Which vaccine, and when?

Routine: Adolescents 11 through 18

Routine: Adults 19 and Older

New mothers who have never gotten Tdap should get a dose as soon as possible after delivery. If vaccination is needed during pregnancy, Td is usually preferred over Tdap.

Protection After a Wound

Tdap and Td may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

4. Some people should not be vaccinated or should wait

5. What are the risks from Tdap and Td vaccines?

With a vaccine (as with any medicine) there is always a small risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction or other serious problem.

Getting tetanus, diphtheria or pertussis would be much more likely to lead to severe problems than getting either vaccine.

Problems reported after Td and Tdap vaccines are listed below

Mild Problems
(Noticeable, but did not interfere with activities)



Moderate Problems
(Interfered with activities, but did not require medical attention)



Tdap or Td

Severe Problems
(Unable to perform usual activities; required medical attention))


Tdap or Td

A severe allergic reaction could occur after any vaccine. They are estimated to occur less than once in a million doses.

6. What if there is a severe reaction?

What should I look for?

Any unusual condition, such as a high fever or behavior changes. Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heart beat or dizziness.

What should I do?

8. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

A federal program exists to help pay for the care of anyone who has a serious reaction to a vaccine. For more information about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, call 1-800-338-2382, or visit their website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation.

9 How can I learn more?

• Ask your provider. They can give you the vaccine package insert or suggest other sources of information.
• Call your local or state health department.
• Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):