Tetanus

Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (Tdap)

Adolescent Vaccination Recommendation: All adolescents 11-18 years of age should get a Tdap booster once, followed by the Td booster every 10 years.

About tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough)

These three diseases are all caused by bacteria. Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person. Tetanus bacteria live in soil and dirt; the bacteria enter the body through cuts, scratches, or wounds. Tdap vaccine protects against all three. Adolescents who have already received a booster dose of Td are encouraged to get a single dose of Tdap as well, for protection against pertussis.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a serious infection that causes coughing spells so severe that it can be hard to breathe. The disease can even lead to cracked ribs, pneumonia, or hospitalization. Protection from the pertussis vaccine that is given in early childhood wears off, so adolescents can get whooping cough. The illness is usually mild in them (they may never know they had it), but adolescents are common transmitters of the infection to infants, who are at the highest risk of death. In fact, a whooping cough outbreak that occurred in California in 2010 was responsible for the death of 10 infants and the largest number of cases in California in nearly 50 years.

Diphtheria is rare in the US, however, it still exists in other countries and can pose a serious threat to any American not fully immunized who travels abroad or who has contact with infected foreigners in the US. Diphtheria causes a thick covering in the back of the throat. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and even death.

Tetanus, sometimes called “lockjaw,” is an infection of the nervous system. It causes severe muscle spasms that can lead, among other things, to “locking” of the jaw so the patient cannot open his/her mouth or swallow.

Resources

About Diphtheria

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

About Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

About Tetanus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Immunizations for Children from Birth Through 6 Years Old

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Immunization schedules for infants and children in easy-to-read formats

Pertussis (Whooping Cough): Frequently Asked Questions

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Pertussis (Whooping Cough): Signs & Symptoms

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

Recommended Immunization Schedule for Persons Age 0 through 18 Years

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Recommended Immunization Catch-Up Schedule

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Tdap Vaccination Strategies for Adolescents and Health Care Personnel: Strategies from Research and Practice

The Joint Commission: Monograph developed to help healthcare organizations of all types (hospitals, long term care facilities, ambulatory settings, home health organizations, etc.) improve Tdap vaccination rates.