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What is the Tdap Vaccine for?

DTaP vaccine dose

Tdap is the vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis). These are all very serious and potentially life threatening illnesses that are caused by different bacteria. When wondering what is tdap vaccine, the answer would be that it is a lifesaving vaccine that is designed to stop people dying from illnesses they should no longer catch.

Who Should Get the Vaccine?
Tdap is generally given as a booster, or second vaccine, to people who are aged between 11 and 64. These people should have first had the DTaP vaccine, which is one of the childhood immunizations. The vaccine is given through an injection, which is usually done in the thigh or the arm.

Depending on age, people will actually get different vaccinations. Essentially:
• The first Tdap should be given to children between 11 and 12
• At 19, adults should receive the Td vaccine, unless they haven’t had their Tdap yet. In that case, they should have a Tdap. After this, tdap vaccine frequency means they have to have a booster every 10 years.
• Those who are unsure about when they have last had their vaccine should consult their physician to see whether they require a booster.

There are a number of people for whom it is particularly important to have a Tdap immunization. This is mainly due to the protection against whooping cough (pertussis). These include:
• Those who have contact with children under the age of one. It is recommended to have a booster even if they are fully up to date.
• Any new mother who has not previously been vaccinated with Tdap
• Health care workers who have any direct contact with patients of any age
• Pregnant women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant

If a child or adult receives a significant burn or cut, it may be recommended to have a Tdap injection, in order to protect against possible tetanus infection.

Tdap Vaccine Side Effects
A number of mild side effects have been reported amongst those who have received the vaccination. These are not dangerous and usually only last for a few days:
• Chills
• Body aches
• Headaches
• Fevers
• Rashes
• Nausea, diarrhea and vomiting
• Soreness at the site of injection
• Swelling or redness at the site of injection

Things to Consider about the Tdap Vaccination
There are some people who should not get the Tdap vaccine. These include:
• Those who have previously had an allergic reaction to the vaccine
• Those who are known to be allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine
• Those who had the DTaP vaccine and had a seizure or went into a coma within seven days of receiving it

Also, certain people would need to discuss issues with their health care provider before receiving the vaccine. These are mainly those who:
• Have a diagnosed nervous system condition such as epilepsy
• Those who have previously had a vaccination against either tetanus, pertussis or diphtheria and had severe pain or swelling following it
• Those who suffer or have suffered from Guillain-Barr Syndrome
• Those who are allergic to latex

If you or your child are ill at the time of the vaccination, either moderately or severe, it is generally recommended to delay the Tdap vaccination to allow you to heal. However, if your illness is only mild, it is usually recommended to go ahead with the vaccine.

If you have allergies against one of the vaccines in what is essentially a combination vaccine, you should still be inoculated against the other disease.

When to Call a Health Provider
If you are not sure whether or not you should have the vaccine, you should contact your health provider to discuss this. If you have had the vaccine and start to feel sick, notice hives, have difficulty breathing, start wheezing or feel dizziness, you should also contact your health care worker. Lastly, feel free to contact them if you ever have any concerns or questions about the vaccine itself.

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