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DTaP in Older Children and Adults

DTaP is approved for children up to the age of seven. It should not be given to anyone seven years of age or older. Instead, the Tdap vaccine should be given for adults and adolescents. One booster is recommended at the age of 11 to 12 years, followed by a booster of just tetanus and diphtheria (the Td vaccine) every ten years.
For adolescents and adults age 19 to 64 years that have never received the Tdap vaccine, a one-time booster of Tdap can be used in place of one of the Td boosters.

Risks and Problems Associated With DTaP

Getting diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis disease is much riskier than getting the DTaP vaccine. However, just like with any medicine, there are possible risks with the vaccine. Most of the possible problems that can occur are minor, meaning that they go away without treatment or are very easily treated by a healthcare provider. The risk of this vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.
Mild Problems
Mild problems that can occur with the vaccine include:
  • Pain (about 7 in 10 cases)
  • Redness or swelling (about 1 in 5 cases)
  • Mild fever (at least 99.5°F, affecting up to about 1 in 10 cases)
  • Headache (about 4 in 10 cases)
  • Tiredness (less than 1 in 3 cases)
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (about 1 in 5 cases).
Other mild problems reported include chills, body aches, sore joints, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.
These problems occur more often after the fourth and fifth doses of the DTaP series rather than after earlier doses.
Sometimes the fourth or fifth dose of the vaccine is followed by swelling of the entire arm or leg in which the shot was given, for one to seven days (up to about 1 child in 30).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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