Tdap vaccine prevents three diseases – tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also known as whopping cough).


Tetanus and diphtheria are prevented through the routine tetanus boosters that are recommended every 10 years. The Tdap vaccine increases protection by providing a booster to prevent whooping cough. Tdap vaccine is important because tweens and teenagers are at increased risk of pertussis, as the vaccines they got as young children need a booster. We give this booster at 11-12 years of age. Tetanus and diphtheria are very rare in the US, due to high vaccine coverage. However, in 2014, there were over 30,000 cases of pertussis in the US, with a large number of cases in 13-16 year olds.


All 11 and 12 year olds should receive one dose of Tdap vaccine. This is in place of the tetanus booster we usually give.

Effectiveness & Safety

Tdap vaccine was 64% effective in preventing pertussis among adolescents during a pertussis outbreak. Following Tdap vaccination, mild side effects may be seen. The most common are pain and redness at the injection site, low-grade fever, headache, and tiredness. More serious side effects are extremely rare. For example, the risk of a severe allergic reaction after Tdap vaccination is less than 1 case per million people vaccinated. Similar to other vaccines, people may faint after getting Tdap vaccine. It is recommended to sit or lay down after vaccination to help prevent fainting or a fall.


As we continue to see outbreaks of pertussis, it is important to get your tween vaccinated with the Tdap vaccine. Tdap vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent three diseases – tetanus (lockjaw), diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).