Joseph F. Sullivan Center


Tdap vaccine: prevents tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough)

  • Tdap vaccine is given once and then a booster is given every 10 years. You should receive a Tdap vaccine if it has been more than 10 years since your last vaccine, if you have been exposed to tetanus or diphtheria and it has been more than 5 years, or if you are around small children.
  • What is tetanus? Tetanus is caused by bacteria found in soil, dust and manure. It enters the body through a wound and can produce a toxin that causes painful spasms and stiffness of all muscles in the body. This can lead to “locking” of ht ejaw so a person cannot open their mouth, swallor, or breathe. Complete recovery from tetanus can take months.
  • What is diphtheria? A contagious bacteria disease that affects the respiratory system. It is passed from person to person by direct contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. The diphtheria bacteria produce a toxin in the body that can cause weakness, sore throat, fever and swollen glands. The toxin can also lead to swelling of heart and possibly heart failure. In severe cases, the toxin can cause coma, paralysis and even death.
  • What is pertussis? Pertussis is also known as whooping cough, and is spread through direct contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. Symptoms seem similar to the common cold, but after 1-2 weeks lead to violent coughing and choking, making it hard to breathe, drink or eat. The cough can last for weeks. Pertussis is more serious for babies and young children, as it can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death. 

Click here for the CDC Vaccine Information Statement about Tdap