Until 2005, there was no pertussis vaccine in the U.S. that could be given to adolescents and adults. Two Tdap (Tdap means tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) vaccines were licensed by the Food and Drug Administration in 2005 – Adacel and Boostrix. Both vaccines are available today to immunize teens and adults.
Boostrix can be given to people 10 years of age and older; Adacel can be given from 11-64 years of age.
A one-time Tdap shot replaces a single tetanus (Td) booster shot that is needed every 10 years for adolescents and adults, including senior citizens.
Tdap is an “inactivated” vaccine. The pertussis component of the vaccine is purified from the B. Pertussis bacterium and then inactivated. There are no live germs in the vaccine. The vaccine cannot cause pertussis in a person.
Side effects most often reported with Tdap vaccination include headache, generalized body aches and tiredness, along with soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site. These symptoms are not severe and disappear within a few days.
While the Tdap vaccine is recommended for most people, a small number of people may have medical issues and thus should not receive this vaccine. Check with your doctor or public health clinic about medical concerns before getting the Tdap shot.
As of October, 2011, it is recommended that pregnant women may receive the Tdap vaccine after 20 weeks of gestation. All mothers of newborns should receive a Tdap vaccination before they leave the hospital with their baby, if not vaccinated earlier.
As of 2010, Tdap vaccination was documented in 68.7% of 13 to 17-year-olds, but only 8.2% of adults had received this immunization.
Outbreaks of pertussis continue to occur in middle schools and high schools largely because the immunity (protection from pertussis infection) from the childhood vaccine series of DTaP shots (given at 2, 4, 6, and 15-18 months of age, with a booster shot at 4 to 6 years of age) wears off in 5 to 10 years, maybe even in 3 years.
The first pertussis vaccines (DTP) became available in the late 1940s, after hundreds of thousands of young children became ill or died from pertussis in the early 1940’s. With regular immunization of young children, about 1,000 cases of pertussis were reported in 1976. However, pertussis cases have increased markedly since the 1980’s, with more than 27,000 cases reported to the CDC in 2010.