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


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

Tdap vaccine instructions: Image by Amy Andersen

What is Tdap?

Tdap has tetanus toxoid, needed for dirty cuts and risk of infection through punctured skin, along with reduced diphtheria (Does anyone ever still get diptheria, you ask? Yes, but vaccination has greatly reduced that possibility) and pertussis, that is whooping cough – acellular pertussis.

Reading newspapers or listening to news, most people know there has been a resurgence of whooping cough.

This really isn’t a problem for grownups, but is a problem for babies whose immature systems can’t handle the whooping-type cough and may be too young to vaccinate against the infection.

So, the grownups do what adults are supposed to do: protect the children.

That is why the Tdap has been created, and come into vogue – too many babies weren’t getting their shots, or were exposed to whooping cough before they were old enough to get their shot.

The Grandparent’s Shot

In the past, adults got a Td vaccine every 10 years unless they were injured, and then it was every 5. Tdap was created in 2005 as a once-in-a-lifetime vaccine, ideally given at least 2 years after receiving a Td, although some have received it a year after a previous tetanus shot with no problems. Originally, it was the “7th grade shot” but then it became known as the grandparent’s shot since new moms were told that everyone who comes into contact with the new baby should get this shot. New Grandparents want to please, and got the shot in droves. New moms, too, left the hospital already vaccinated.

Should You Get the Tdap?

It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about your personal health needs, but in general, tetanus shots are important. There is no herd protection – you can’t say everyone else is vaccinated so I am safe. Tetanus isn’t spread from person to person, but it can be deadly.  For 7th graders, it is often a requirement to continue in school.

The tetanus shot doesn’t usually hurt going in the skin, but there may be some pain and bruising at the site in later days. Bear in mind that your vaccination is  protecting babies from whooping cough that can be deadly for them. Adults, too, can get a terrible annoying spasmodic whoop-like cough, and the pertussis vaccine is forumlated to prevent this in adults as well as children. The tetanus and diptheris protection is important for everyone as well. The Tdap is a one-time booster, so once the shot and any after effects are gone, the vaccinated effect is supposed to persist. Ten years later, though, you’ll need a booster tetanus shot without additional pertussis.


U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tdap for PreTeens and Teens. (2012). Accessed October 29,2012.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated Recommendation for use of Tetanus Toxoid and Tdap from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. (2011). MMWR. Accessed October 29,2012.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine Information Statement. (2012). CDC. Td or Tdap Vaccine. Accessed October 29,2012.

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