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What is the Tdap Vaccine?

Tdap is a three-in-one vaccine and protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.  Exposure to tetanus occurs from open wounds or cuts in the skin.  Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from tiny droplets in the air from coughing and sneezing.  While these diseases occur worldwide, they are also common in the United States and pertussis (whooping cough) can be especially contagious. 

Who Needs a Tdap Vaccine?

Anyone 2 months and older regardless of travel plans should be up-to-date.  Children receive the DTaP form of the vaccine which protects against the same three diseases.  Tdap is given to adolescents and adults and acts as a booster for the childhood vaccinations.

Tdap vaccine protects against three diseases in one injection, namely tetanus, diphtheria, and pertusis
The Tdap vaccine prevents infection against tetanus and it is important for all travelers to be current on their Tdap vaccination before departure

How Often Should I Vaccinate for Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis? 

In general, adults should re-vaccinate every 5-10 years after their childhood vaccine series regardless of travel plans.  Women should receive a Tdap vaccine with every pregnancy between 27 – 36 weeks.  Receiving the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy passes on some protection  (antibodies) to the baby against pertussis, also known as Whooping Cough.  That way, the infant is partially protected at birth from infection since it takes multiple doses and many months for the child to be fully immunized. 

Because Whooping Cough is one of the most dangerous diseases for a newborn, immediate family members and caregivers of the infant are also recommended to received their Tdap vaccine before the child’s birth.

What Should I Do if I Get a Cut or Scrape While Traveling Internationally?

If you have been vaccinated for tetanus within the last five years, another vaccine is not needed. If your tetanus vaccine was given more than five years earlier then another vaccination is generally recommended. Finally, if you are unvaccinated against tetanus, a three dose series of the vaccine is suggested.

Regardless of immunization status, other germs may enter the wound and it is important to clean and dry the site. Rinse and wash the wound with clean water and soap. Then, place a dry bandage to cover the site and consider using an antibiotic ointment if available.  If you cannot remove all the debris from the wound or bleeding does not stop seek medical care. Additionally, if the site becomes red or oozy with signs of infection, you need to see a medical professional. 

If you get injured while on your international trip be sure to clean the wound and apply fresh bandage. A Tdap (tetanus) vaccine may be recommended if it has been more than 5 years since your last shot.

Where Can I Find a Tdap Vaccine Near Me?

Destination Health Travel Clinic offers the Tdap immunization to international travelers and non-travelers alike.  Book your appointment online or call to schedule.

Consider Other Vaccinations

Whether you’re travelling internationally or just want to update your vaccinations for living in the United States, consider these other routine vaccines: Hepatitis A vaccine,  Hepatitis B vaccine, MMR vaccine