Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Vaccines Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

DTaP and Tdap Vaccines

DTaP is a vaccine that helps children younger than age 7 develop immunity to three deadly diseases caused by bacteria: diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis). Tdap is a booster immunization given at age 11 that offers continued protection from those diseases for adolescents and adults.

Diphtheria is a respiratory disease that can cause breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and death. It's highly contagious and is spread by coughing and sneezing.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests, to children and teens. Learn more.

Health Insurance Center

Tetanus, or lockjaw, is caused by a bacterium often found in soil. Once it enters the body it releases a toxin that attacks the nervous system, causing muscle spasms and death if left untreated.

Pertussis, also highly contagious, causes coughing spasms so severe that in infants it makes it difficult to eat, drink, or even breathe. It can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and death.

Before the vaccines were developed, these diseases were rampant. Vaccines protect the community by preventing the spread of disease from one person to the next, which even offers some protection to the unvaccinated. If people stopped getting vaccinated, the incidence of these three diseases would rapidly rise and thousands would get sick and perhaps even die.

What's the Difference Between DTaP and Tdap?

Both vaccines contain inactivated forms of the toxin produced by the bacteria that cause the three diseases. Inactivated means the substance no longer produces disease, but does trigger the body to create antibodies that give it immunity against the toxins. DTaP is approved for children under 7. Tdap, which has a reduced dose of the diphtheria and pertussis vaccines, is approved for adolescents starting at the age of 11 and adults ages 19 to 64.

Immunity wears off over time. So the current recommendation is that everyone needs a booster shot for tetanus and diphtheria every 10 years after first being immunized. That booster comes in the form of a vaccine called Td. But since immunity to pertussis also wears off during childhood, a weaker form of the pertussis vaccine has been added to the booster to make the vaccine Tdap. The current recommendation is that one dose of the Tdap vaccine be substituted for one dose of the Td vaccine between the ages of 11 and 64. Pregnant women are also advised to get the Tdap vaccine, preferably between 27 and 36 weeks' gestation.   

Children ages 7 through 10 who aren't fully vaccinated against pertussis, including children never vaccinated or with an unknown vaccination status, should get a single dose of the Tdap vaccine. Teens 13 through 18 who haven't gotten the Tdap vaccine yet should get a dose, followed by a booster of tetanus and diphtheria (Td) every 10 years.

When Should Children Be Vaccinated With the DTaP Vaccine?

Children should receive five doses of the DTaP vaccine according to the following schedule:

  • One dose at 2 months of age
  • One dose at 4 months of age
  • One dose at 6 months of age
  • One dose at 15 to 18 months of age
  • One dose at 4 to 6 years of age

 

Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Today on WebMD

Vaccine Schedule Are Your Childs Shots Up To Date
Article
Child getting a vaccine
Article
 
child with fever
Article
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 

What To Know About The HPV Vaccine
Article
24 Kid Illnesses Parents Should Know
Slideshow
 
Nausea and Vomiting Remedies Slideshow
Article
Managing Immunization Schedules For Kids
Video
 

Doctor administering vaccine to toddler
Video
gloved hand holding syringe
Article
 
infant receiving injection
Tool
Phototake Child Cheeks Fifth Disease
Slideshow
 

WebMD Special Sections