Diphtheria, Tetanus & Whooping Cough - DTap Vaccine

What You Need to Know

Diphtheria once was a major cause of illness and death among children. The United States recorded 206,000 cases of diphtheria in 1921 and 15,520 deaths. Before there was treatment for diphtheria, up to half of the people who got the disease died from it. 

Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. It can affect people of all ages, but can be very serious, even deadly, for babies less than a year old.

Tetanus is  also called “lockjaw”. It often causes a person’s neck and jaw muscles to lock, making it hard to open the mouth or swallow. CDC recommends vaccines for infants, children, teens, and adults to prevent tetanus.

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Diphtheria vaccine and tetanus vaccine (i.e., DT and Td) are often given with protection against whooping cough or pertussis (i.e., DTaP and Tdap). DTaP vaccine and DT are given to children younger than 7 years old, while Tdap and Td are given to older children and adults.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis.

Who Should Get Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Whooping Cough Vaccines?

CDC recommends DTap vaccinations for everyone. Talk to your or your child’s pediatrician about what is best for your specific situation.

Babies and Children

Babies and young children need three doses of the DTaP vaccine to build up high levels of protection, and then two booster shots to maintain that protection through early childhood.

Doses are recommended at the following ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 15 through 18 months
  • 4 through 6 years

For children who should not get vaccines that contain protection against whooping cough (for example due to having a very bad reaction to DTaP), DT vaccine can be given instead of DTaP.

Preteens and Teens

Preteens should get one dose of the tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (Tdap) vaccine to boost their immunity about the age of 10. Teens should get another booster at the age of 15.

All children and adolescents younger than 19 years of age who have not yet gotten the vaccine should also be vaccinated.

Rainbow Pediatrics strives to provide our patients with the best and most comprehensive pediatric care possible from birth through college. 

From preventative visits to unique health challenges, Rainbow's pediatricians are prepared to treat your child with the friendly, expert care you want and deserve.

We strive to be the community leader in pediatric health each day by delivering a level of care that's second-to-none in Central Ohio. That's why families trust our experienced team to care for their loved ones from infancy to early adulthood.