Tetanus (Tdap) Vaccination

What is the tetanus (Tdap) vaccine?

The tetanus (Tdap) vaccine is an essential immunisation that provides protection against 3 life-threatening bacterial diseases:

  • Tetanus (lockjaw)
  • Diphtheria
  • Acellular pertussis (whooping cough)

How the tetanus (Tdap) vaccine works

The vaccine contains small, inactivated parts of the bacteria causing these diseases. Upon administration, it prompts the body's immune system to develop antibodies against these pathogens, offering future protection.

Types of tetanus (Tdap) vaccines

The most common tetanus vaccine given is the Tdap, suitable for adolescents and adults. For children under 7, the DTaP vaccine is used, offering similar protection but with dosages appropriate for younger ages.

Differences between tetanus (Tdap) vaccines

The primary difference between the Tdap and DTaP vaccines lies in the age suitability and dosage:

  • Tdap is a booster shot for adolescents and adults
  • DTaP is a series of shots given to infants and children

Why do you need the tetanus (Tdap) vaccine?

Tetanus is a severe and often fatal condition if left untreated. Vaccination is the best defence against tetanus, which can enter the body through cuts or puncture wounds, and against diphtheria and acellular pertussis, which are spread through respiratory droplets.

In Singapore, the DTaP and Tdap vaccines are recommended under the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS) and National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS), to enhance community immunity and reduce the spread of the disease.

When do you need the tetanus (Tdap) vaccine?

A primary series is typically administered in childhood, with a Tdap booster recommended at age 11 or 12 and every 10 years thereafter. Additional doses might be needed following severe injuries or for pregnant women.

Do I need the tetanus (Tdap) vaccine every pregnancy?

During each pregnancy, the Tdap vaccine is strongly recommended to protect the mother and the newborn from acellular pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

When a pregnant woman receives the vaccine, her body creates protective antibodies and passes some of them to the baby before birth. These antibodies provide the newborn with some immunity against whooping cough in the first few months of life, a period when the baby is most vulnerable but too young to be vaccinated.

This practice has been shown to reduce the risk of whooping cough in young infants significantly.

Who should get the tetanus (Tdap) vaccine around a newborn?

To protect the newborn from acellular pertussis (whooping cough), it is recommended that anyone who is going to be in close contact with the baby receive the Tdap vaccine.

This is often called "cocooning," a strategy to protect infants from infectious diseases by vaccinating those around them.

The following individuals should receive the Tdap vaccine:

  • Parents. Besides the baby's mother, the child's father is recommended to receive a Tdap vaccine booster if he has not received one in the last 10 years.
  • Siblings. Older brothers and sisters should be up-to-date with their vaccinations, including the Tdap booster.
  • Grandparents and caregivers. It's crucial that anyone who will regularly interact with the baby, including grandparents, nannies, and babysitters, be vaccinated.

It's typically recommended that these close contacts receive the Tdap vaccine at least 2 weeks before meeting the baby, as this allows enough time for immunity to develop.

Who should not receive the tetanus (Tdap) vaccine?

Individuals with severe allergic reactions to previous doses or vaccine components, and those with a history of seizures or other nervous system disorders, should consult their doctor before getting the tetanus (Tdap) vaccination.

How do you prepare for the tetanus (Tdap) vaccine?

Ensure you have a complete medical history available, including any allergies or previous adverse reactions to vaccines, and wear clothing that allows easy access to the upper arm.

What can you expect when getting the tetanus (Tdap) vaccine?

The vaccine is typically administered as an injection in the upper arm. It's a quick procedure, and you'll likely be observed for a short time post-vaccination for any immediate reactions.

What are the common side effects of the tetanus (Tdap) vaccine?

Common side effects may include:

  • Soreness at the injection site
  • Mild fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

These are generally short-lived and resolve without intervention.

What are the serious side effects that require medical attention?

Rarely, severe allergic reactions can occur, including:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling around the face or neck
  • Severe pain and swelling of the limbs

If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical attention immediately.

Where can I get vaccinated?

Find a Parkway Shenton clinic near you and call us to confirm if your preferred vaccine is available.

Find a clinic near me

Frequently asked questions

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Yes, the Tdap vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines, using separate injection sites and needles.

Yes, it is safe for breastfeeding mothers to receive the Tdap vaccine, and it can provide indirect protection to the baby.

Yes, those with minor illnesses can generally receive the Tdap vaccine. However, those with more severe illnesses should consult their doctor.

When pregnant women are vaccinated, the Tdap vaccine can help protect newborns from neonatal tetanus.

No specific lifestyle or dietary restrictions are necessary following Tdap vaccination.

If you miss a Tdap booster, you don't need to restart the series; schedule the missed booster as soon as possible.

No, the Tdap vaccine cannot cause these diseases, as it contains inactivated components of the bacteria.

The Tdap vaccine is highly effective in preventing tetanus from any source of injury, but proper wound care and seeking medical advice for severe or dirty wounds are still crucial.

Travellers should be up to date with their Tdap vaccination, especially if travelling to areas where diphtheria or pertussis is prevalent.

It generally takes about 2 weeks after vaccination for the body to build immunity against tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (whooping cough).

Why choose Parkway Shenton?

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