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The Tdap vaccine protects against three serious diseases that are caused by different bacteria:

  • Tetanus: Also known as lockjaw, tetanus enters the body through cuts or wounds. It can cause muscles all over the body to stiffen. Tetanus is painful and sometimes deadly.
  • Diphtheria: This infection is spread through person-to-person contact, usually through coughing or sneezing. Diphtheria is an infection that affects breathing and swallowing. When it occurs, a thick layer of mucus develops on the throat, nose, tonsils and voice box. Diphtheria can lead to death.
  • Pertussis: Also known as whooping cough, pertussis causes bad coughing spells that can last for weeks. These spells can make it difficult to eat, drink or breathe. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death.

Who should get a Tdap vaccine?

  • Children age 7 to 18 – Tdap vaccine is a “booster” vaccine for children who got diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough vaccines usually given before age 7. Boosters are important because some vaccines stop working well over time. If your child missed the earlier vaccine, he or she can get a Tdap vaccine whenever your doctor recommends it.
  • Adults age 19 and older who have never had a Tdap vaccine – This vaccine is especially important for adults age 65 and older who spend time with children younger than 1. These adults include grandparents, childcare workers, doctors, nurses, and other health care workers.

What are the side effects of the Tdap vaccine?

There are side effects with any medication, including the Tdap vaccine. The majority of people do not experience any problems with Tdap. The most common side effects are redness or soreness at the site where the shot was given, mild fever, tiredness and headaches.

There are other, more serious side effects, but they are rare. These can include high fever, swelling, severe pain or bleeding in the arm where the shot was administered. Serious allergic reactions are also very rare, but should be treated as an emergency.

Severe allergic reactions can cause symptoms within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccine. Signs of emergency can include hives, facial or throat swelling, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat or dizziness.

If you or your child experiences any of these serious side effects or other unusual behavior after receiving the Tdap vaccine, go to the ER immediately.

In the unlikely event your child experiences a serious side effect, talk to your healthcare provider so they may recommend an alternative vaccine.

If your child needs a Tdap vaccine, CareNow® urgent care can help. Locate the nearest CareNow® urgent care clinic to set up a visit. Services an immunizations may vary by location, so please call your closest clinic to confirm availability. You can minimize your wait time with our Web Check-In®.