About Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap)


Tetanus is an extremely serious disease that is caused by a poisin made by bacteria commonly found in soil. Tetanus does not spread from person to person. The bacteria enter the body through breaks in the skin – usually cuts or puncture wounds. About 3 weeks after exposure, a child might get a headache, become cranky, and have spasms in the jaw muscle (why this disease is often called "lockjaw"). The bacteria can then produce a toxin that spreads through the body causing the painful symptoms of tetanus. The muscle spasms can be strong enough to break a child's bones and cause breathing problems and paralysis (unable to move parts of the body). And a child might have to spend several weeks in the hospital under intensive care. Tetanus is very dangerous.


Diphtheria is a serious disease that spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A person can spread the disease for up to 2 weeks after infection. Diphtheria starts with sore throat, mild fever (101 degrees or less) and chills. It causes a thick coating in the back of the nose or throat that makes it hard to breathe or swallow. The diphtheria toxin can attack the heart, causing abnormal heart rhythms and even heart failure. It can also attack the nerves, which leads to paralysis (unable to move parts of the body). About 1 out of 10 people who get diphtheria will die.


Pertussis – commonly referred to as whooping cough – is very contagious and can cause prolonged, sometimes extreme coughing. While preteens and teens usually do not get as sick from pertussis as young children, coughing fits can still take place for 10 weeks or more. The prolonged illness can cause lengthy disruptions in school and other activities and even hospitalization. Pertussis spreads easily through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. A person can spread the disease while he or she has cold-like symptoms and for about 2 weeks after coughing starts.

Reference: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens/vaccines/tdap.html

How do These Diseases Affect the Body?

Tdap will affect your body in multiple ways. The main symptoms you should look for if you think you are experiencing Tdap are:

  • Lockjaw
  • Tightening of the muscles all over the body
  • Thick coating in the nose, throat, and airways
  • Paralysis
  • Heart Failure
  • Death
  • Whooping Cough

If experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately for emergency care.

Reference: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens/vaccines/tdap.html

The Best Prevention is Tdap Vaccine

There are currently two Tdap vaccines available: Adacel® and Boostrix®. At least one dose of either vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of 13. Most people receive the vaccine between ages 13 and 18. If you are thinking about getting the Tdap for yourself or your children, talk with a fred’s Pharmacist today to get more information.

What are the Possible Side Effects of These Vaccines?

Mild problems following Tdap vaccination can include:

  • Reactions where the shot was given
    • Pain
    • Redness
    • Swelling
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or stomachache
  • Chills
  • Body aches or sore joints
  • Rash
  • Swollen glands

Reference: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/dtap-tdap-td/public/index.html

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