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by Cornel J

What Does This Vaccine Help Prevent?

This shot helps block:

  • Diphtheria —causes a sore throat with thick coating in the back of the throat
  • Tetanus —causes painful muscle tightening all over the body; also known as lockjaw
  • Pertussis —causes bad coughing spells that may happen at any age; in babies and young children, it may make eating, drinking, and breathing hard

What Is the Tdap Shot?

It has diphtheria and tetanus toxoids. It also has small pieces of pertussis bacteria that aren’t active.

It is given to children 7 years and older. It is also given to adults to protect against infections.

It is given as a shot in the arm or thigh.

Who Should Get the Shot and When?


Tdap is given to children aged 11 years or older. It is given even if they didn’t have the DTaP series. Tdap can also be given to:

  • Children aged 7 to 10 years who have not been fully vaccinated
  • Children (aged 11 years and older) and adults who did not get Tdap should get the shot. It should be followed by a tetanus and diphtheria (Td) booster every 10 years
  • Adults who have never received Tdap
  • Women in their 27 to 36th week of pregnancy even if they have received Tdap in the past

Catch Up Shots

If you or your child have not been fully vaccinated, talk to the doctor.

What Are the Risks of the Shot?

Most people do not have any problems. The most common ones are:

  • Pain, redness, or swelling at the site
  • Mild fever
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Belly pain

These health problems can happen, but they are not common:

  • Fever over 102° Fahrenheit (38.9° Celsius)
  • • Severe digestive problems
  • Severe headache

Acetaminophen is sometimes given for pain and fever after getting a shot. In babies, it may weaken the shot. But in children at risk for seizures, it may need to be taken. Talk to your doctor about whether this is right for your child.

Who Should Not Get the Shot?

Most people should get their shots on time. People who may be at risk for problems are those who:

  • Have had a reaction to Tdap that threatened their life
  • Have had a severe allergy to any part of the shot to be given
  • Have gone into a coma or have had seizures within 7 days after a dose of Tdap

Talk with your doctor before getting the shot if you have:

  • Epilepsy or other nervous system problems
  • Severe swelling or pain after a prior dose of any part of the shot to be given
  • Guillain Barre syndrome
  • Moderate or severe illness—wait until you get better to get the vaccine

What Can I Do So I Don't Get Infected?

The best way to block diphtheria is to get vaccinated.

Clean all wounds right away. Follow up with your doctor for care to block a tetanus infection.

Keep babies and other people at high risk away from infected people.

What During a Pertussis Outbreak?

If there is an outbreak, all people who may have been exposed should be brought up to date with their shots. Keep babies and other people at high risk away from infected people. Finding out whether you have the disease right away can help stop it from spreading.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  http://www.cdc.gov 

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics  http://www.healthychildren.org 


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.

Immunization schedules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html. Updated February 6, 2018. Accessed July 19, 2018.

Fisman DN, Tang P, et al. 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: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/pertussis/default.htm. Updated November 28, 2017. Accessed July 19, 2018.

Tdap vaccine: what you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/tdap.pdf. Updated February 24, 2015. Accessed July 19, 2018.

Vaccinations for adults. Immunization Action Coalition website. Available at: http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p4030.pdf. Accessed July 19, 2018.

10/30/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance  https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114978/Immunizations-in-children-and-adolescents  : Prymula R, Siegrist C, 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 Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance  https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T356409/Diphtheria-and-Tetanus-Toxoids-and-Acellular-Pertussis-Vaccine-Adsorbed  : 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.

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