Many parents have been asking about the new Tdap shot required for school.
TdaP (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis vaccine) is currently being called the Whooping Cough vaccine, but it also protects against Tetanus and Diptheria. Because whooping cough is on the rise, especially here in California, the Tdap vaccine is required for students entering 7th to 12th grade.
Tdap protects against whooping cough (aka Pertussis), a very contagious disease that causes violent coughing and trouble breathing. Whooping cough can be especially dangerous for young babies.
Infants receive the DtaP vaccine (a similar vaccine made for infants and children) at 2, 4, 6 and 15 months of age, with a booster dose given at 4-5 years.
Because immunity to whooping cough can wear off over time, the Tdap vaccine is now recommended for everyone 10 years of age and older. This is especially important for new parents, grandparents and anyone who cares for a newborn.
In my office, we began giving Tdap in 2005 when pertussis/whooping cough was added to the adult tetanus vaccine. If you or child received a tetanus vaccine since 2005, check if it was the new Tdap or the old Td (no whooping cough/pertissis protection). If you or your child received the old Td vaccine, the new Tdap should be given. The good news is that you only need one dose for protection and other than a sore arm, side effects are rare. Roll up your sleeve and let’s protect everyone from whooping cough.
Here is some information about the three diseases that TdaP protects against:
Pertussis – aka whooping cough, is a very contagious disease that causes violent coughing fits and trouble breathing. The symptoms can last for months. Whooping can easily and quickly spread from person to person. It is particularly dangerous for young babies. These spells can last for weeks and the cough can be so bad that it is hard for infants to eat, drink, or breathe.
Tetanus – causes severe, painful spasms of muscles, including the jaw (‘lockjaw’) and swallowing and breathing problems.
Diphtheria – is a throat infection that can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure and death.