TDAP is a combination vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis or whooping cough. Before vaccines, there were about 200,000 cases each of diphtheria and pertussis every year and hundreds of cases of tetanus. After experts developed vaccines, infection rates for tetanus and diphtheria dropped 99 percent. Pertussis infections have dropped 80 percent.
TDAP is a combination vaccine, but all three components work the same way. Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are each caused by bacteria that produce harmful toxins. The vaccine uses inactivated toxins to produce an immune response so the body knows how to fight them. These vaccines do not use live forms of the bacteria and cannot spread the diseases they protect against.
The TDAP vaccine is meant for anyone over the age of seven. Doctors recommend that pregnant women get a TDAP vaccine with every pregnancy,as it can protect the unborn baby against pertussis after birth. Adults who have never had a TDAP vaccine should get one, and boosters are necessary at least every ten years.
Some people should not get a TDAP vaccine, including thosewho have had a severe reaction to previous tetanus, diptheria, or pertussis vaccines or anyone who had seizures or entered a coma within a week of another TDAP vaccine or any component of a TDAP vaccine. People who have had seizures, nervous system problems, or Guillain-Barré syndrome should talk to their doctor before getting a TDAP vaccine.
The TDAP vaccine can have some mild side effects. The most common is injection-site pain, which affects about two of three adults. About one in five people will have redness or swelling at the injection site, and about one in ten adults experiences nausea, vomiting, or upset stomach. Fever affects about one in 100 adults, and swollen glands and rashes are rare.
Moderate and serious side effects of the TDAP vaccine include fevers over 102 degrees; about one out of 250 people get this symptom. Swelling of the arm where the injection was given affects only one in every 500 people. Severe pain and swelling or bleeding are rare but require medical attention if they occur. Allergic reactions may also occur in rare cases and may require immediate medical attention.
Although the TDAP and DTaP vaccine protects against the same diseases, these two vaccines are not the same. While the TDAP is meant for older children and adults, the DTaP vaccine is for younger children. The CDC recommends the DTaP vaccines multiple times during infancy, including three doses between 2 months and 6 months, then again between 15 and 18 months and 4 to 6 years.
Overall, the TDAP vaccine is very effective, though each component has different results. The tetanus and diphtheria components protect between 95 and 100 percent of people against diphtheria for ten years. As for the pertussis component, when given to pregnant women, it protects more than 3 in 4 newborns two months old and younger from getting whooping cough and keeps about 9 of 10 babies from needing treatment in a hospital if they do get infected.
The TDAP vaccine protects against tetanus. Tetanus is a non-communicable disease, which means you cannot catch it from someone else. This also means that the vaccine cannot create herd immunity: people are only protected by the vaccine if they get it themselves.
Tetanus bacteria live in the soil and get into the body through cuts or punctures in the skin. Anyone can get tetanus, but it is more common in developing countries where vaccine efforts lag.
TDAP protects against diptheria, a disease that was very common in the 1920s before the vaccine. It infected about 15,000 children and teenagers in the U.S. every year. The diphtheria vaccine was introduced in the 1940s and virtually eliminated the disease in the country. Outbreaks are still somewhat common around the world, and the case numbers fluctuate with immunization rates.
Pertussis or whooping cough is extremely contagious, especially for infants and young children. It causes a violent, uncontrollable cough that can lead to severe respiratory distress, apnea, and pneumonia and can be deadly. Most children catch pertussis from adults, which is why it is so important for adults to get vaccinated even though they rarely experience severe symptoms.
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