Vaccines used today against diphtheria and tetanus (i.e., DT and Td) sometimes also include protection against whooping cough or pertussis (i.e., DTaP and Tdap). DTaP and DT are given to children younger than 7 years old, while Tdap and Td are given to older children and adults.

Who Should Get Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Whooping Cough Vaccines?

CDC recommends diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis) vaccination for everyone. Vaccines used today against diphtheria and tetanus (i.e., DT and Td) sometimes also include protection against whooping cough (i.e., DTaP and Tdap). Two of these (DTaP and DT) are given to children younger than 7 years old, while two (Tdap and Td) are given to older children and adults.

Talk to your or your child’s healthcare professional about what is best for your specific situation.

Learn about different types and brands of diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough vaccines at CDC’s What Are the Types of Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Whooping Cough Vaccines? webpage.

Babies and Children

Babies and young children need three doses of the diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (DTaP) vaccine to build up high levels of protection, and then two booster shots to maintain that protection through early childhood. Doses are recommended at the following ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 15 through 18 months
  • 4 through 6 years

For children who should not get vaccines that contain protection against whooping cough (for example due to having a very bad reaction to DTaP), DT can be given instead of DTaP.

Preteens and Teens

Preteens should get one dose of the tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (Tdap) vaccine to boost their immunity between the ages of 11 and 12 years. Teens who didn’t get Tdap as a preteen should get one dose the next time they visit their healthcare professional.

Pregnant Women

If you are pregnant, you should get a Tdap vaccine during the 3rd trimester of every pregnancy to help protect your baby from whooping cough in the first few months of life.

Adults

Adults should get one dose of the tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine every 10 years. For adults who did not get Tdap as a preteen or teen, they should get one dose of Tdap in place of a Td dose to boost protection against whooping cough. However, adults who need protection against whooping cough can get Tdap at any time, regardless of when they last got Td.

Source: CDC

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