3-in-1 Vaccine Recommended for Adolescents and Some Adults
Most of us have been vaccinated with the tetanus diphtheria (Td) vaccine, given to protect us from those two potentially serious diseases. There is another vaccine recommended for adolescents and adults that can protect against more than just tetanus and diphtheria.Known as the Tdap vaccine, the shot also protects against a disease called pertussis (whooping cough), as well as the two aforementioned diseases.
Tetanus is caused by a bacteria that enters the body through breaks in the skin and open wounds. Commonly known as lockjaw, tetanus causes a painful tightening of the muscles, including the mouth and jaw. If left untreated, tetanus can be fatal in up to 20 percent of cases.While it is relatively rare in the United States, certain populations are at potentially greater risk of infection. Symptoms include spasms of the jaw muscles that progresses to neck stiffness, difficulty swallowing, and the tightening of the abdominal muscles. Fever, sweating, high blood pressure, and increased heart rate also typically accompany.
Also caused by a bacteria, diphtheria causes a thick covering to form in the back of the throat. Left untreated, diphtheria can lead to breathing difficulty, swallowing problems, and heart failure. In extreme cases, paralysis and even death can result.Diphtheria is usually spread by person-to-person contact or through the air. In some cases, it can also be spread by contaminated objects. Infected individuals can carry the bacteria without having any symptoms but can still spread the disease to othersWhile the disease in considered rare in the U.S. and even in the developed world with around 5,000 new cases every year, it was only in the 1970s (prior to a million infection
Pertussis (whooping cough) is a bacterial infection that causes a very distinctive cough that sounds quite literally like a whoop. The severe coughing spells that result can cause vomiting and sleep disturbances. Untreated, pertussis can lead to weight loss, rib fractures, pneumonia, and even hospitalization. There are upwards of 20,000 cases of pertussis each year. It is particularly dangerous—even deadly—for infants.It is an airborne disease that can be transmitted by sneezing and coughing. People are infectious from the very start of symptoms until about three weeks into the coughing fits. The time between infection and the onset of symptoms is usually between seven and ten days
Who Should or Shouldn’t Get Vaccinated
It is currently recommended that adolescents age 11 to 18 years who have not yet been inoculated for tetanus be given the Tdap vaccine. For those who have already gotten the tetanus vaccine, Tdap is recommended for additional protection against pertussis. A five-year wait between the tetanus vaccine and Tdap is typically recommended but not required.The CDC advises pregnant women to receive the Tdap shot between 27 and 36 weeks of each pregnancy. Because babies can’t receive the childhood version of the shot—called DTaP—until 2 months old, there’s a window of time when they’re not protected from pertussis. By getting vaccinated during the third trimester, a mother can pass those protective antibodies to her child.Adults age 19 and over should be administered the Tdap vaccine instead of a booster dose of the tetanus vaccine. The indication for Tdap in HIV-positive people is the same as in HIV-negative people.
Administration of the Tdap vaccine is contraindicated in the following people:
- Anyone who has had an allergic reaction to a previous vaccine, especially a tetanus vaccine.
- Anyone who has had an allergic reaction to any of the components of the Tdap vaccine.
Additionally, persons who have a known latex allergy should talk with their doctor before receiving the shot as there is the potential for cross allergy to the Tdap vaccine. Anyone with a history of seizures, epilepsy, or Guillain Barre syndrome should also notify their doctor before receiving the vaccine.
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Side effects of Tdap vaccination are typically classified as low grade, resolving on their own within a day or two on average. They include:
- Pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Body aches, chills, joint pain, or swollen lymph glands
If these symptom are either severe or persist, contact your doctor or clinic immediately.