TDAP: New Tetanus Shot Vaccine, Not only a New Grandparents Shot


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Tdap Vaccine for Adolescents , Adults, and New Grandparents: Image by A. Andersen

What’s the big deal with the resurgence of a tetanus vaccine?

The tetanus diphtheria vaccine that everyone gets when they step on the proverbial rusty nail has morphed into a repeat of a childhood vaccine long forgotten.

When the new guidelines came out in 2005 for those 18-64 years of age, the Tdap was so well-received that it recently won an age extension for those over 65 years of age.

The extension received final approval in February, 2012, but due to rampant anti-vaccine sentiment, there are still some who are reluctant to get this shot.

What the Alphabet Tetanus Shots Mean

The various initials stand for the same ingredients – but the amount of vaccine varies, depending where the letters lie in the acronym, which letter is first, or capitalized.

The first or capitalized letter stands for the most significant part of the vaccine. The adult Tdap, for example, contains has the least amount of pertussis vaccine.

The past adult tetantus shot, which is still available, had no pertussis.

What the Tetanus Shot Prevents:

The Tdap shot is formulated to prevent tetanus, pertussis, and diptheria.

  • T- tetanus, otherwise known as lockjaw, but essentially a muscle-locking disease that can be fatal. Spores enter the body through punctures, thus we have the rusty nail analogy, but in actuality, soil can be infected and the spores enter broken skin. IV drug users can be at risk for this disease without vaccination.
  • P- pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough for its whoop-like spasmodic cough. Pertussis is contagious, and spreads from person to person.
  • D- diphtheria, a bacterium that coats the throat and back of throat with membrane like material and causes difficulty swallowing and possible death. Diptheria is contagious, and spreads through contact or droplets.

The various shots for tetanus include Td, DPT, DtaP, and the Tdap.

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