The whooping cough (pertussis) booster vaccine is given as part of a three-in-one vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap). It provides protection to adults, while also preventing the spread of this highly contagious illness to children and infants.
The Tdap vaccine is recommended for adolescents and adults. This three-in-one vaccine offers one lifetime dose against whooping cough (pertussis) and also covers two other serious diseases, tetanus and diphtheria.
The publicly funded routine Tdap immunization program has been expanded to include all adults 19 to 64 years of age who did not receive the adolescent booster dose between 14 to 18 years of age.
The DTaP-IPV vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis and polio. DTaP is for children under 7 years of age. School children are required to provide a record of immunization against diphtheria and tetanus before attending school, under the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA).
The Tdap vaccine is a booster given once to adolescents and adults (14 to 64 years of age) that extends a person’s immunity against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.
Adults and adolescents need one Tdap for lifetime protection against pertussis, and this dose of Tdap can replace one of their Td vaccine boosters. Afterwards, Td should continue to be given every ten years.
The Td vaccine is also a booster that protects against tetanus and diphtheria but not pertussis. The Td vaccine is given to adults every 10 years.
Tetanus, or lockjaw, is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that can happen if dirt with the tetanus germ gets into a cut in the skin.
How it spreads
Tetanus germs are found everywhere, usually in soil, dust and manure. It does not spread from person to person.
Diphtheria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease of the nose, throat and skin.
How it spreads
It is most often passed to others through coughing and sneezing. Thanks to high vaccination rates, there have been no cases of diphtheria in Ontario since 1995.
Pertussis, or “whooping cough”, is a serious disease especially in children, characterized by spells of violent coughing. This cough can last for weeks and make it hard for a child to eat, drink or even breathe. Pertussis can also cause prolonged cough illness in adolescents and adults.
Adults have been increasingly recognized as the main source for pertussis infection in infants and young children. Infected adults and adolescents can pass on the disease to infants who have not yet completed their immunization series against pertussis. These infants are at a greater risk of serious complications.
Infants are at a greater risk of serious complications.
How it spreads
Pertussis spreads very easily from an infected person to others through coughing or sneezing.
How well does Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis?
It is estimated that the Tdap vaccine will offer full protection against tetanus, over 95% against diphtheria and 85% against pertussis when it is given as a booster in adolescence. (Public Health Agency of Canada. (2006). Canadian Immunization Guide (7th ed.))
In some cases, individuals may acquire the infection after vaccination, but generally disease symptoms are milder.
Adults only need one dose of Tdap vaccine, if they have not received it in adolescence. The Tdap vaccine will replace one of the Td vaccine boosters given every to adults every 10 years.
Tdap vaccine provides lifelong immunity against pertussis. However, adults need the tetanus and diphtheria vaccine (Td) booster every 10 years for effective protection against tetanus and diphtheria.
Who is eligible to receive the publicly funded vaccine?
Adolescents 14- 18 years old
In Ontario, adolescents 14 to 18 years of age are eligible to receive the publicly funded vaccine. It’s generally given between 14-16 years of age.
Adults 19 – 64 who have missed their adolescent booster
The publicly funded routine Tdap immunization program has been expanded to include all adults 19 to 64 years of age who did not receive the adolescent booster dose.
Who should not get the Tdap vaccine?
People who have had any of the following :
Please consult with your health care provider if you :
Is the Tdap vaccine safe?
Side effects of the Tdap vaccine are usually mild and last for only a few days after getting the shot. The most common side effect is pain at the injection site. Redness and swelling may occur and a small number of people may have fever, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, nausea, chills, generalized body ache, decreased energy or sore and swollen joints after receiving the vaccine.
Allergic and other severe reactions are very rare.
There is no risk of a pregnant woman or anyone else catching any disease from someone who has been recently vaccinated.
You should always discuss the benefits and risks of any vaccine with your health care provider.
Be sure you read and understand the information that will be provided to you by your local public health unit and by your health care provider.
Contact your local public health unit for additional information.
When should I call my health care provider?
Call your health care provider or go to the nearest hospital emergency department if your child has any of the following reactions within three days of receiving the vaccine :
Who should I talk to if I have any more questions about the Tdap vaccine?
Talk to your health care provider or call your local public health unit for more information. .
Your record of protection
After any immunization, make sure your personal immunization record (i.e., the “Yellow Card”) is updated. If your child is attending child care or school, inform your local public health unit each time your child receives an immunization.
An immunization record is required for child care, school attendance, for certain types of travel and work, so keep it in a safe place.
Download this fact sheet for more information.
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