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Answers to Common Tdap Vaccine Questions

Atrium Medical Center answers frequently asked questions about a Tdap vaccine.

What is the Tdap vaccine?

Click play below or read the video transcript.

The Tdap vaccine is a form of a tetanus vaccine that also includes protection against diphtheria and pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

This vaccine is given as a booster to the regular tetanus vaccine because it has been found to be beneficial for adults to receive the Tdap vaccine to protect themselves and young children – especially infants – they come in contact with.

Ask your physician for more information about when would be best for you to get the Tdap vaccine.

Learn more:

What is whooping cough?

Click play below or read the video transcript.

Commonly known as whooping cough, pertussis very contagious, extreme, prolonged coughing.

Whooping cough used to be one of the most common childhood diseases and a major cause of childhood mortality in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A vaccine was developed for pertussis in the 1940s.

Symptoms of whooping cough include:

  • Initially whooping cough seems like a cold with sneezing, fever, a runny nose and slight cough.
  • Within two weeks, the cough will become severe. The extreme coughing can cause children to break a rib, vomit and even pass out. The cough is a high-pitched whoop and comes in spells that last a couple minutes each.
  • Though the cough will improve over time, it can last in a less severe way for months.
  • Talk with your physician for more information about whooping cough and how to prevent it.

Learn more:

Who should get the Tdap vaccine? Why?

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Children receive protection against whooping cough (pertussis) from a series of vaccines they receive between 2 months and 6 years old.

Typically it is recommended that preteens – children 11 or 12 – receive a Tdap vaccine as the 10-year booster to their original tetanus shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Adults, too, who are receiving a tetanus booster, but have yet to receive the Tdap version should get the Tdap vaccine to gain the pertussis immunization.

Adults and children who have not received a Tdap booster and will be around babies 2 months old and younger should definitely get the vaccine.

Making sure the people around infants are protected against whooping cough will help keep unprotected infants safe and healthy.

Even if it’s not time yet for your tetanus booster, ask your doctor if it would benefit you or your family by getting the Tdap vaccine.

Learn more:

How common is whooping cough?

In 2010, 27,550 cases of pertussis – whooping cough – were reported in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC also states that many cases go unreported each year.

Also in 2010, 27 deaths from whooping cough were reported, 25 of which were children younger than 1, according to the CDC.

Your physician can give you more details about the frequency of whooping cough in your area.

Learn more:

Can I get a Tdap vaccine while I’m pregnant?

If you are pregnant and have not yet been vaccinated with the Tdap vaccine to prevent against whooping cough, you should get one dose of the Tdap vaccine either late in the second trimester or during the third trimester, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

You can also get the vaccine right after you have your baby, while still in the hospital.

By getting the Tdap vaccine while you are pregnant, maternal pertussis antibodies transfer to your baby, which can help protect your baby against whooping cough early in life before he or she can get vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Check with your physician for more information about when would be the right time for your to get the Tdap vaccine to help protect your baby.

 Learn more about the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy Off Site Icon

Will my baby be protected after birth if I get the Tdap vaccine?

Click play below or read the video transcript.

The Tdap vaccine given during pregnancy should transfer some antibodies to the newborn to help protect him from whooping cough before receiving the vaccine himself.

The best way, however, to protect your baby until he starts getting his own vaccinations is to make sure adults and children in your family all have gotten the Tdap vaccine.

By making sure those in close contact with your baby have been protected, you greatly decrease the risk of your newborn getting whooping cough.

For more information about benefits of getting the Tdap vaccine while you are pregnant, talk with you physician.

Learn how to prevent whooping cough Off Site Icon.  

How many doses of the Tdap vaccine do I need?

It is recommended that adults get a booster to their regular tetanus vaccine every 10 years and that the Tdap vaccine – a version including defenses against whooping cough – replace just one of the boosters, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Young children and teens have a different vaccination schedule and a slightly different version of the vaccine that they receive.

For more information about when it is right for you to get the Tdap vaccine, talk with your physician.

 More about the Tdap vaccine Off Site Icon

Can I get the Tdap vaccine now even if I got my last tetanus booster less than 10 years ago?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get their Tdap vaccine in place of their next regular tetanus booster.

But, the Tdap vaccine can be given less than 10 years from your previous tetanus booster, if needed. For example, if you are pregnant, your physician might recommend getting the Tdap vaccine during your pregnancy to help protect your baby rather than waiting until it is time for your 10 year booster.

Talk with your physician to find out the best time for you to get your Tdap vaccine.

When to get the Tdap vaccine Off Site Icon.  

Thank you to Michelle Gnagey, IBCLC, lactation consultant at Atrium Medical Center, for answering these common questions about the Tdap vaccine.

Additional Resources

This website provides general medical information that should be used for informative and educational purposes only. Information found here should not be used as a substitute for the personal, professional medical advice of your physician. Do not begin any course of treatment without consulting a physician.

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