Infections are often outcomes of microbial attacks. Most common among such attacking microbes are virus and bacteria. Vaccines are made with these microbial agents that are the chief cause for infections. Once a shot is administered, the vaccine enables your natural immunity to identity the microbial threat and helps decimate infection-causing agents. In this milieu, the Tdap vaccine is taken to avoid likely incidence of tetanus, diphtheria as well as pertussis. Most people know Tdap vaccine is a shot taken to prevent the incidence of tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. But, efforts taken to understand about Tdap vaccine will largely remain inadequate till you know more on the underlying conditions this vaccine helps prevent as well as its side effects. It is hence important to know more about its adverse side effects and take needful precautions to minimise the associated discomforts.

Tetanus is caused by a toxin-making bacterial agent; it is known to affect your central nervous system (i.e., CNS). The most common symptoms of this condition include painful muscles, stiffness of tissues in your joints, etc. This condition can affect your neck and jaw muscles the most. Owing to this, tetanus is also called as lockjaw. Bacterial strand responsible for the onset of tetanus can gain access into your body in many ways. Most common among them are through wounds or burn injuries. It can also enter into your system through a nick, cut or a puncture.

On the other hand, diphtheria is caused by a toxic bacterial strand. This condition spreads from one individual to another through sneezing or while coughing. It is an acute respiratory infection and can destroy healthy tissues of your respiratory tract; this makes it difficult to swallow foods as well as inhale or exhale air. When a toxic strand of this bacterium gains entry into your blood, it can lead to renal repair, nerve damages and a few cardiac problems. Diphtheria is a very rare condition in the United States – thanks to the successful and widespread vaccination programs done to eradicate it from the country.

Pertussis is characterised by a shrill sound of inhaling air – often referred as whoop, often accompanied by an acute spell of coughs. Hence, this infection is known as whooping cough. This condition is mainly triggered by the pertussis strand of bacteria. Babies – both newly born as well as very young infants – are at a higher level of risk. It can be near-fatal in newly born infants. Needful care is administered in a clinical setting for proper treatment and medical support. Common treatment plans include intake of antibiotics such as azithromycin, clarithromycin, erythromycin, etc. In infants aged less than 7 months, the medication plan needs to be started in less than 5 weeks of noticing the typical signs of pertussis. Among women who are pregnant, needful treatment is started soon after spotting the characteristic symptoms of this condition.

Use of Tdap vaccine

This vaccine is administered as 5 distinctive shots for children; especially, those between 2 months till 6 years of age. These shots are given in the following order – first dose is given when the baby is 2 months old; 2nd dose is administered at the 4th month; 3rd dose is in the sixth month; 4th dose is given in between 16 and 18 months and its last dose (i.e., the 5th) is offered in between 4 to 6 years.

In case of people aged above 10 years, boosters are administered to maintain your body’s ability to fight these 3 infectious conditions. The food and drug administration (FDA) has approved two Tdap vaccines namely, Boostrix and Adacel. Shots of these vaccines are also given to pregnant women to safeguard the baby from pertussis, especially during the initial stages of pregnancy. Dosages of these two Tdap vaccines are similar. Though adults are given shots of Tetanus – diphtheria (Td), it is highly recommended to go for Tdap to avoid likely onset of pertussis among adults or the aged.

Side effects of Tdap vaccine

This vaccine can trigger a few discomforts as well as some adverse side effects. Commonly experienced side effects include persistent spells of headache, weakness, abdominal pain, indigestion, vomiting or nausea, increase in body temperature, etc. Inflammation at the site of the shot as well as discoloration is equally common. Most of the aforesaid side effects are common for both Boostrix as well as Adacel.

Also, many (or, almost all) of these discomforts may disappear after a few days. These are unlikely to become serious health conditions; however, if the discomforts persist for a longer period, you are advised to consult a qualified medical professional as soon as possible. You may use drugs like aspirin to relieve pain and discomforts experienced soon after the shot. Ensure that a few painkillers are not given to children aged less than 17 years; this is because, some painkillers can lead to severe reactions among children as well as teens.

Acute side effects

Most people who took the Tdap shot did not experience near-fatal side effects or serious allergies. In extremely rare cases, a few users developed acute side effects. These acute discomforts include passing out or fainting, fits, spasms and convulsions. As very remote occurrences, some have noticed stiffening of facial muscles and inflammation of brain or an acute damage of the brain (clinically referred as encephalitis). However, a clear association between such serious side effects and Tdap vaccine is not fully evidenced. Hence, drug approving agencies are not sure if some of these acute side effects are triggered by the administration of Tdap vaccine.

Allergic reactions triggered by Tdap vaccine

As a relatively uncommon occurrence, this vaccine may cause a few allergies and harmful reactions. These allergies may be observed soon after a Tdap shot is administered. Allergic effects may include inflammation of facial organs, respiratory problems such as wheezing, drowsiness or feeling extremely dizzy, weariness, soreness of throat, erratic heartbeat, etc.

Upon noticing one or more of these allergic reactions, you are advised to call 911 or contact a qualified medical practitioner on an urgent mode. Those living in the US may call the vaccine adverse event reporting system (VAERS) or contact the closest poison control center. Those who are residing in Canada need to call Health Canada or reach out to a poison control unit nearer to your home. These emergency helplines are to be contacted if you notice any of these allergies – i.e., spreading of hives to several parts of your body, severe spells of tremors or shakes, very high fever, persistent spells of abdominal problems like diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.

Precautions needed to minimise or avoid side effects of Tdap vaccine

The medical team needs to be aware of your medical history as well as your family’s clinical history. Prior incidence of allergies upon taking shots of vaccines for preventing pertussis, diphtheria or tetanus needs to be reported promptly. Also, if you have a history of epilepsy or other muscular conditions, your doctor must to be informed of such malaise. In general, it is a good practice to keep your doctor informed about prior neurological conditions such as neuralgia or other conditions that impact the health of your central nervous system (CNS). In such conditions, your medical team may tell you to take the vaccine after some time. The vaccine may however be administered if you are experiencing a mild fever or cold. But, those who are having a critical illness or a serious clinical condition are not advised to take a shot of the Tdap vaccine.

Also, those who have had prior symptoms of Gullian-barre syndrome must have to wait till your doctor approves administration of Tdap vaccine. This syndrome weakens your muscles which is an outcome of a damaged nervous system. Other symptoms of the syndrome are damage of muscles of your lungs and air pathways, erratic heartbeats and altered blood pressure levels. If left untreated, this syndrome can lead to near-fatal, and at times, even fatal outcomes.

Know the differences between Tdap and DtaP vaccines

First, let us see the similarities among them: these two vaccines are made from toxins found in bacteria that are known to cause diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. The toxins are deactivated so that they do not spread the diseases; instead, they are made to form antibodies and thus help strengthen your defense system.

Now, the differences between them; the key difference is – DTaP vaccine is administered to children aged less than seven years. On the other hand, Tdap shots are for children aged above 11 years and also for adults till they reach 64 years of age. Tdap is also administered as booster vaccines. They essentially serve to boost the immunity levels each time you go for a shot. The frequency of boosters is once every 10 years. This cycle helps sustain your immunity standards and thus keeps infectious conditions such as diphtheria or tetanus at bay. These boosters do have a milder dose of pertussis vaccine. This is essential because of the subsequent weakening of your defense mechanism against a possible onset of pertussis.

In sum, bacteria that cause tetanus gains access into your body through wounds, burn injuries or a nick. Diphtheria is also caused by a toxic bacterial strand. In case of a severe onset of diphtheria, nodes of lymph present at the neck region may enlarge; this enlargement makes it difficult to inhale and exhale. In such cases, your doctor may recommend tracheotomy. This is a surgical intervention wherein your windpipe (i.e., trachea) is cut open to provide access to a tube. Through this tube, you can breathe without the help of your mouth or nose. Pertussis requires care administered in a clinical setting for its proper treatment.

Tdap vaccine is a shot administered to prevent the onset of tetanus, diphtheria as well as pertussis. This vaccine may cause a few undesired side effects. Its adverse effects may include abdominal pain, indigestion, vomiting or nausea, increase in body temperature, headaches, weakness, etc. In some remote instances, the vaccine can cause swelling, breathing difficulties, dizziness, tiredness, erratic pulse rates, faster heartbeats, etc. If you experience one or more of these adverse side effects, contact a qualified medical practitioner or reach out to 911 immediately. Residents of Canada can either contact call Health Canada or contact a poison control center located in their province.


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