Tdap is a shot usually given in the arm muscle, to protect teens and adults from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). The vaccine allows the body to produce enough antibodies to provide a defense against these three diseases; it does not cause any of these diseases.
—also known as “lockjaw” because it causes muscle spasms to the point where a person cannot open her mouth or swallow.
—causes a thick coating in the back of the nose or throat that makes it hard to breathe or swallow. It may cause lung infections and/or inflammation in the heart and nervous system resulting in damage to the respiratory and nervous systems or even death.
—commonly called whooping cough, pertussis affects the respiratory tract and can cause coughing fits that may disturb normal breathing. It might start out as a regular cold and is often not diagnosed for weeks or months until more severe symptoms occur.
Why am I being offered the Tdap vaccine?
Tdap is safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The risk for severe and fatal pertussis (whooping cough) remains high until an infant has received one to two doses of DTaP (the pediatric version of the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine) around four months old. To reduce spreading pertussis to infants, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends giving Tdap vaccine to women in pregnancy and the postpartum period, including women who are breastfeeding.
The CDC also recommends vaccinating other adults at least two weeks prior to close contact with infants under one year old. Tdap can be given as soon as two years after the last Td (tetanus-diphtheria) shot, instead of waiting the usual 10 years - or five years with a wound.