Tetanus (lockjaw), diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) are very serious diseases.
Tetanus is caused by a bacterial infection as a result of a wound, scratch, or cut. Tetanus causes painful tightening of the muscles throughout the body and stiffness of the neck and head so the mouth can’t open, swallowing becomes difficult, and difficulty breathing can happen. Tetanus infections kill about one out of every ten people who are infected.
Diphtheria is also caused by bacteria it is spread through coughing and sneezing. The disease causes a thick gray membrane that coats the back of the throat and tonsils. Diphtheria causes sore throat and can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, and even death.
Pertussis is a very contagious disease caused by the bordetella pertussis bacteria which is transmitted from person to person. Pertussis affects the lungs and airwaves of the infected person. Pertussis is also called whooping cough because of the sound of the serve cough it causes. Pertussis also interferes with breathing. Pertusssis can last several weeks and can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and even death.
The Tdap vaccine is given to protect adolescents and adults from the three diseases. A dose is routinely administered at the age of 11 or 12. Anyone who has not received the Tdap vaccination should get it as soon as possible; this is especially important for people with close contact with babies and young children and health care professionals.