Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP and Tdap) Vaccines

DTaP and Tdap vaccines protect against diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw), and pertussis (whooping cough), which are serious bacterial infections. Diphtheria is a throat infection that can block the airway and lead to difficulty breathing, paralysis, and heart failure. Tetanus causes painful muscle tightening, paralysis, and seizures. Pertussis (whooping cough) causes severe coughing and can result in pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and death.

The pertussis component of the vaccine can rarely cause seizures and should not be given to children who have seizure disorders,

Immunization schedule—DTaP vaccines usually are administered in 5 doses, as follows:

  • Dose 1 at 2 months of age
  • Dose 2 at 4 months of age
  • Dose 3 at 6 months of age
  • Dose 4 at 15-18 months of age
  • Dose 5 at 4-6 years of age (before entering school)

Booster shots include Tdap at 11-12 years of age, and then tetanus and diphtheria shots every 10 years.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 14 Aug 2015