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Vaccine Checklist for Preteens and Teens

Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap) Vaccine

The Tdap (Adacel®, Boostrix®) vaccine protects against three illnesses caused by bacteria -- tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. You may recall that your child received a similar vaccine as a young child. That vaccine -- DTaP -- is given to children in five doses before they reach the age of seven. However, the protection offered by DTaP wears off over time.
 
Tdap boosts your child's immunity against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. It is similar to DTaP, only it contains lower doses of the diphtheria and pertussis portions of the vaccine.
 
Tdap is a relatively new vaccine. It became available in 2005. Before that time, the only booster available was the Td shot. However, Td only protects against tetanus and diphtheria (not pertussis). Td is still recommended every 10 years after one dose of Tdap.
 

Why Should My Child Receive the Vaccine?

Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are very serious illnesses that can cause severe complications, and even death. Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person, so getting vaccinated not only protects your preteen, but those around your child who have a higher risk for catching the illnesses, such as young infants or older adults.
 

Tetanus

Tetanus is caused by Clostridium tetani, a type of bacteria that is commonly found in soil, dust, and animal feces. The bacteria can enter the body through deeps cuts, puncture injuries, or other wounds that break the skin. Once in the body, the bacteria produce a toxin that can cause the muscles to spasm or stiffen. Muscles spasms from tetanus can be so severe that the bones in the body can break.
 
One of the common symptoms of tetanus is muscle spasms of the jaw, which can cause the jaw to "lock." This is why the infection is commonly referred to as "lockjaw." Lockjaw makes it hard to open the mouth or swallow, which can lead to suffocation and death.
 
Thanks to the tetanus vaccine, tetanus is quite rare in the United States. There are only about 50 cases of it each year. Most of these cases occur in people who have not received the tetanus vaccine, or did not get their tetanus booster shot when it was due.
 
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