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All You Should Know About Tdap Vaccine

What are the Tdap and DTP vaccines?

Tdap stands for tetanus (T), diphtheria toxoids, (D) and acellular Pertussis (aP). The Tdap vaccine also called the DTP vaccine, is a combination vaccine that protects against three potentially life-threatening bacterial diseases, namely: Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (whooping cough).

1. Tetanus enters your body through a cut or wound. It affects the nervous system , causing extremely painful muscle spasms. The jaw spasms can make it impossible for you to open your mouth. This condition is generally called the ‘lockjaw’. Tetanus kills one out of five individuals infected with it.

2. Diphtheria is an extremely contagious infection which makes it difficult to breathe as a thick greyish membrane forms in the throat. In some severe cases, diphtheria can cause heart as well as nerve damage.

3. Pertussis, also called whooping cough, is a very contagious respiratory disease that can cause severe breathing problems. It first appears like an ordinary cold, but then may cause intense, uncontrollable coughing spells.

Tdap

Tdap became available in 2005 for older children (above the age of 7 years) as well as adults. Before 2005, there was no pertussis booster shot for anybody above 6 years of age. Tdap is an inactivated vaccine. Inactivated vaccines are made using the dead bacteria and these dead germs cannot make you sick

Tdap is only for children 7 years and older, adolescents, and adults.

Adolescents should receive a single dose of Tdap, preferably at age 11 or 12 years.

Pregnant women should get a dose of Tdap during every pregnancy, to protect the newborn from pertussis. Infants are most at risk for severe, life-threatening complications from pertussis.

Adults who have never received Tdap should get a dose of Tdap.Also, adults should receive a booster dose every 10 years, or earlier in the case of a severe and dirty wound or burn. Booster doses can be either Tdap or Td (a different vaccine that protects against tetanus and diphtheria but not pertussis).

DTP

Please note that Tdap is different from the DTaP or DPT vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough) which is used for children to prevent the same diseases. DTaP is given to babies and children in five doses, starting from 2 months of age.

What are its benefits?

Tdap vaccination provides the best prevention against Tetanus Diphtheria and Pertussis (whooping cough), which are serious and sometimes fatal diseases. When you get Tdap vaccination, you help protect others as well.

Who can get Tdap vaccine?

If you are 18 years of age or above, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you to get a dose of Tdap in place of your next Td (tetanus – diphtheria) booster if:

1. You have never taken the Tdap shot

2. You do not remember if you have ever taken the Tdap shot

3. You are a health care worker who have direct contact with patients

4. You are travelling to countries where pertussis is common

You may be given the Tdap shot if you have a severe burn or cut and have never received a shot before. Severe burns or cuts increase your risk for tetanus.

Usually, a Td (tetanus – diphtheria) booster is given every 10 years with a single injection in the upper arm. You need to get a Tdap booster before the 10 year interval:

1. If you anticipate having close contact with a baby below 12 months of age (parents, grandparents and baby-sitters). You should ideally, get the shot at least 2 weeks before holding the baby

2. If your are pregnant. Pregnant women have to get a Tdap booster with every pregnancy

Who cannot get Tdap vaccine?

While the risk of getting a severe allergic reaction to Tdap vaccination is very low, some people should avoid taking the Tdap shot. These people include:

1. Those who have had a life threatening allergic reaction previously to any vaccine having tetanus, diphtheria or pertussis

2. Those who have had seizures within 7 days of childhood dose of DTaP (or DTP) or a previous dose of Tdap

3. Those who were in a coma

4. Anyone under the age of 7 years

Talk to your doctor if Tdap is right for you if you have had:

1. Epilepsy, seizures or any other condition that affects nervous system

2. Guillain-Barré syndrome

3. Experienced severe pain or swelling after getting a tetanus, diphtheria, or pertussis vaccination earlier

How is this vaccine administered?

Tdap vaccine is given as an injection (shot) into the muscle. You will get this injection in a doctor’s clinic.

Precautions to be taken before and after vaccination

Follow your doctor’s advise about any restrictions on beverages, food or activity after receiving a Tdap vaccine. Following are the general precautions you must take before and after vaccination

1. Before vaccination, check your earlier vaccination record so that your doctor knows whether you need a shot now. Talk to your doctor before getting vaccinated. Some people may need to delay the vaccination . Inform your doctor if you:

a. Are sick

b. Have any allergies

c. Have had severe side effects from a vaccine in the past

2. Stay calm while you are getting vaccinated. If you are feeling nervous about getting a shot, try the following tips to stay relaxed:

· Avoid looking at the syringe

· Take deep breaths

· Relax your muscles (this will make the shot less painful)

For how long will Tdap be effective?

Typically, a Tdap shot provides good levels of protection within the first two years after vaccination. However, the protection decreases over time. Public health specialists call this a ‘waning immunity’.

Do I need another Tdap shot? If so, when?

Studies estimate that Tdap vaccines protect nearly all people (bout 95 in 100) for about 10 years. However, protection decreases over time. Therefore, adults should get a Tdap shot or Td booster shot every 10 years to stay protected.

What are the side effects of Tdap Vaccine?

Like all medicines, vaccines also have side effects. But, there are rare chances of a life-threatening reaction. The CDC says that the dangers of developing tetanus, diphtheria or pertussis far outweigh the risks of taking the vaccination.

Minor side effects of Tdap may include:

1. Tiredness

2. Headache

3. Mild fever

4. Swollen glands

5. Stomach troubles like nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

6. Swelling, redness or pain in the arm where the shot was administered

7. Muscle pains and aches

Mild side effects of Td include:

1. Headache

2. Mild fever

3. Swelling, redness or pain in the arm where the shot was administered

In a few people, these side effects can be more intense. These include:

1. Severe swelling, pain or even bleeding in the arm where the shot was administered

2. A very high fever (of 102 F or higher)

3. Signs of allergic reaction in just few minutes to few hours of the shot. The allergic reactions may include swelling of the face or throat, rapid heart beat, difficulty breathing, dizziness and hives

In case of any side effect from Tdap Vaccine, what should I do?

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following side effects within 7 days of receiving Tdap vaccine:

1. Sudden pain in shoulders or arms or

2. Weakness, tingling or numbness in the feet and legs;

3. Problems with coordination or walking

4. A light-headed feeling, as if you may faint

5. Ringing in your ears

6. Vision problems,;

7. Seizures

Is it safe to take it during this pandemic

Yes, it is safe take Tdap vaccination even during this pandemic. The CDC recommends that you should continue to take all recommended vaccines. Adults and older adults with underlying health conditions are particularly at risk for preventable diseases and complications if vaccination is deferred. For pregnant women, Tdap vaccination is important for both maternal and the infant health.

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