Generic name: tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap) (TET a nus, dif THEER ee a, and ay SEL yoo ler per TUS iss)
Brand name: Adacel (Tdap), Boostrix (Tdap)
Drug class: Vaccine combinations
What is tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap)?
Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are serious diseases caused by bacteria.
Tetanus (lockjaw) causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. It can lead to "locking" of the jaw so the victim cannot open the mouth or swallow. Tetanus leads to death in about 1 out of 10 cases.
Diphtheria causes a thick coating in the nose, throat, and airways. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, or death.
Pertussis (whooping cough) causes coughing so severe that it interferes with eating, drinking, or breathing. These spells can last for weeks and can lead to pneumonia, seizures (convulsions), brain damage, and death.
Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person. Tetanus enters the body through a cut or wound.
The diphtheria, tetanus acellular, and pertussis adult vaccine (also called Tdap) is used to help prevent these diseases in people who are at least 10 years old. Most people in this age group require only one Tdap shot for protection against these diseases.
Tdap vaccine is especially important for healthcare workers or people who have close contact with a baby younger than 12 months old.
This vaccine works by exposing you to a small dose of the bacteria or a protein from the bacteria, which causes the body to develop immunity to the disease. This vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.
Like any vaccine, the Tdap vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.
You should not receive this vaccine if you have ever had had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a tetanus, diphtheria, or pertussis vaccine. You also should not receive this vaccine if you had a neurologic disorder affecting your brain within 7 days after having a previous pertussis vaccine.
Before taking this medicine
You should not receive this vaccine if:
you had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any vaccine that contains tetanus, diphtheria, or pertussis; or
you had a neurologic disorder affecting your brain (such as loss of consciousness or a prolonged seizure) within 7 days after having a previous pertussis vaccine.
You may not be able to receive a Tdap vaccine if you have ever received a similar vaccine that caused any of the following:
a very high fever (over 104 degrees Fahrenheit);
a neurologic disorder or disease affecting the brain;
fainting or going into shock;
severe pain, redness, tenderness, swelling, or a lump where the shot was given;
an allergy to latex rubber;
severe or uncontrolled epilepsy or other seizure disorder; or
Guillain-Barré syndrome (within 6 weeks after receiving a vaccine containing tetanus).
If you have any of these other conditions, your vaccine may need to be postponed or not given at all:
a history of seizures;
a weak immune system caused by disease, bone marrow transplant, or by using certain medicines or receiving cancer treatments; or
if it has been less than 10 years since you last received a tetanus shot.
You can still receive a vaccine if you have a minor cold. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.
It is not known whether Tdap vaccine will harm an unborn baby. However, you may need a Tdap vaccine during pregnancy to protect your newborn baby from pertussis. Young babies are most at risk for severe, life-threatening complications from pertussis. Your doctor should determine whether you need this vaccine during pregnancy.
If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of the Tdap vaccine on the baby.
It is not known whether Tdap vaccine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
How is this vaccine given?
This vaccine is given as an injection (shot) into a muscle. You will receive this injection in a doctor's office or clinic setting.
Tdap vaccine is usually given as a one-time injection. Unless your doctor's tells you otherwise, you will not need a booster vaccine.
Tdap vaccine is usually given once every 10 years.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Since the Tdap vaccine is usually given only once, you are not likely to miss a dose.
What happens if I overdose?
An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.
What should I avoid before or after receiving this vaccine?
Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity after receiving a Tdap vaccine.
This vaccine side effects
Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. If you ever need to receive a booster dose, you will need to tell your doctor if the previous shot caused any side effects.
You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.
Becoming infected with diphtheria, pertussis, or tetanus is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have any of these side effects within 7 days after receiving Tdap vaccine:
numbness, weakness, or tingling in your feet and legs;
problems with walking or coordination;
sudden pain in your arms or shoulders;
a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
vision problems, ringing in your ears;
seizure (black-out or convulsions); or
redness, swelling, bleeding, or severe pain where the shot was given.
Common side effects may include:
mild pain or tenderness where the shot was given;
headache or tiredness;
body aches; or
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.
What other drugs will affect tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis vaccine?
Before receiving this vaccine, tell your doctor about all other vaccines you have recently received.
Also tell the doctor if you have recently received drugs or treatments that can weaken the immune system, including:
an oral, nasal, inhaled, or injectable steroid medicine;
medicines to treat or prevent organ transplant rejection.
If you are using any of these medications, you may not be able to receive the vaccine, or may need to wait until the other treatments are finished.
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with this vaccine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
Frequently asked questions
More about Adacel (Tdap) (diphtheria toxoid / pertussis, acellular / tetanus toxoid)
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- Drug class: vaccine combinations
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