Skip to main content

Tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap)

Generic name: tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap) [ TET-a-nus, dif-THEER-ee-a, and-ay-SEL-yoo-ler-per-TUS-iss ]
Brand names: Adacel (Tdap), Boostrix (Tdap)
Dosage form: intramuscular suspension (5 units-2 units-15.5 mcg/0.5 mL; 5 units-2.5 units-18.5 mcg/0.5 mL)
Drug class: Vaccine combinations

Medically reviewed by on Nov 21, 2023. Written by Cerner Multum.

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 that can lead to "locking" of the jaw so the victim cannot open the mouth, swallow, or breathe. Tetanus can lead to death.

Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, or death.

Pertussis (whooping cough) causes severe long-lasting episodes of cough that can interfere with eating, drinking, or breathing. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and death.

Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person. Tetanus enters the body through a cut or wound.

The tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis adult vaccine (also called Tdap) is used to help prevent these diseases in people who are 10 to 64 years old.

Like any vaccine, the Tdap vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.

This vaccine side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

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.

Tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis vaccine may cause serious side effects. Call your doctor at once if you have:

Common side effects of tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis vaccine may include:

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.


Becoming infected with tetanus, diphtheria, or pertussis is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine.

Before taking this medicine

You should not receive this vaccine if you've ever had:

If you have any of these other conditions, your vaccine may need to be postponed or not given at all:

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.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your doctor or vaccination provider should determine whether you need a Tdap vaccine.

If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry to track the effects of this vaccine on the baby.

This version of the vaccine (Adacel, Boostrix) should not be given to anyone under the age of 10. Another vaccine is available for use in children younger than 10 years old.

How is this vaccine given?

This vaccine is given as an injection (shot) into a muscle.

Tdap vaccine is usually given as a one-time injection. Unless your doctor's tells you otherwise, you will not need a booster vaccine.

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 vaccination provider's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

What other drugs will affect tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis vaccine?

Before receiving this vaccine, tell your vaccination provider about all other vaccines you have recently received.

Also, tell the vaccination provider if you have recently received drugs or treatments that can weaken the immune system, including:

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 affect this vaccine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.