Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine - what you need to know
All content below is taken in its entirety from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Tdap Vaccine Information Statement (VIS):
CDC review information for Tdap VIS:
- Page last reviewed: August 6, 2021
Why get vaccinated?
Tdap vaccine can prevent tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.
Diphtheria and pertussis spread from person to person. Tetanus enters the body through cuts or wounds.
- TETANUS (T) causes painful stiffening of the muscles. Tetanus can lead to serious health problems, including being unable to open the mouth, having trouble swallowing and breathing, or death.
- DIPHTHERIA (D) can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, or death.
- PERTUSSIS (aP), also known as "whooping cough," can cause uncontrollable, violent coughing that makes it hard to breathe, eat, or drink. Pertussis can be extremely serious especially in babies and young children, causing pneumonia, convulsions, brain damage, or death. In teens and adults, it can cause weight loss, loss of bladder control, passing out, and rib fractures from severe coughing.
Tdap is only for children 7 years and older, adolescents, and adults.
Adolescents should receive a single dose of Tdap, preferably at age 11 or 12 years.
Pregnant people should get a dose of Tdap during every pregnancy, preferably during the early part of the third trimester, to help protect the newborn from pertussis. Infants are most at risk for severe, life-threatening complications from pertussis.
Adults who have never received Tdap should get a dose of Tdap.
Also, adults should receive a booster dose of either Tdap or Td (a different vaccine that protects against tetanus and diphtheria but not pertussis) every 10 years, or after 5 years in the case of a severe or dirty wound or burn.
Tdap may be given at the same time as other vaccines.
Talk with your health care provider
Tell your vaccination provider if the person getting the vaccine:
- Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of any vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria, or pertussis, or has any severe, life-threatening allergies
- Has had a coma, decreased level of consciousness, or prolonged seizures within 7 days after a previous dose of any pertussis vaccine (DTP, DTaP, or Tdap)
- Has seizures or another nervous system problem.
- Has ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (also called "GBS")
- Has had severe pain or swelling after a previous dose of any vaccine that protects against tetanus or diphtheria
In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone Tdap vaccination until a future visit.
People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated.
People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting Tdap vaccine.
Your health care provider can give you more information.
Risks of a vaccine reaction
- Pain, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, mild fever, headache, feeling tired, and nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomachache sometimes happen after Tdap vaccination.
People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.
As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.
What if there is a serious problem?
An allergic reaction could occur after the vaccinated person leaves the clinic. If you see signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness), call 9-1-1 and get the person to the nearest hospital.
For other signs that concern you, call your health care provider.
Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your health care provider will usually file this report, or you can do it yourself. Visit the VAERS website at
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines. Claims regarding alleged injury or death due to vaccination have a time limit for filing, which may be as short as two years. Visit the VICP website at
How can I learn more?
- Ask your health care provider.
- Contact your
local or state health department.
- Visit the website of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for vaccine package inserts and additional information at
Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Call 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO) or
- Visit CDC's website at
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Vaccine information statements (VISs): Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) VIS.
Last reviewed on: 8/6/2021
Reviewed by: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.