How long does Tdap last?
Before the early 1990s, the DTP vaccine was given to protect against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. However, this vaccine often caused severe side effects, and in some cases led to seizures. As a result, medical researchers began making vaccines with acellular pertussis. The “a” in Tdap stands for “acellular.”
While using acellular pertussis causes fewer side effects and is generally considered safer, research has found that the protections it provides do not last as long. Children receive their last dose of the DTaP vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis) by six years old, and by age 11 or 12 most of the protection against pertussis that it provides has gone away.
This is why adolescents should receive the Tdap vaccine as a booster. Adults who have not received a Tdap vaccine should also get one, because their protection against pertussis from childhood vaccines has likely gone away.
After the Tdap vaccination, adults should get a Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.
Tdap vaccine side effects
Studies have found that most patients who receive a Tdap vaccination do not experience side effects, or if they do these are mild and easily tolerated.
Some of the Tdap vaccine side effects include:
- Soreness, redness, or mild swelling at the location of the shot
- Low fever or chills
- Headache or tiredness
- Body aches or sore joints
- Nausea or stomachache
A small number of people who receive the Tdap vaccine experience more severe side effects including:
- Swelling of the arm where the shot was given
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Fever over 102° F
- Severe pain where the shot was given
- Bleeding at the site of injection
For most people, the benefits of being vaccinated against serious diseases outweigh the risk of these side effects.
March 26, 2020
Janet O’Dell, RN