Inoculating For Tetanus, Diphtheria, And Pertussis

Pertussis also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. This bacterium is spread by airborne droplets with an incubation period of 7 to 14 days. It is called “whooping cough” due to the distinctive sound the sufferer makes. Although a vaccine is available pertussis is on the rise in the US.

Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor for CBS Philly explains:

“The problem is that it appears the vaccine slowly loses effectiveness over time and without boosters people are at risk to contract it.”

People don’t think they need to have follow-up shots once they have been immunized as a child for various preventable diseases, but most require additional boosters over a lifetime.

Tetanus (lockjaw) is a bacterial infection that causes spasms of the back, chest, abdomen, neck and jaw, painful prolonged contraction of the skeletal muscle, and can lead to death. Contraction occurs from encountering the Clostridium tetani in a gash or wound. Diphtheria is a serious disease caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheria with a short 2-5 day incubation period, spread through aerosolized respiratory droplets. Carriers can be asymptomatic, showing no signs of the illness. Symptoms include fever, chills, lesions, cough, and labored breathing.

CDC Information Sheet outlines the differences between Td and Tdap. A pertussis vaccination is a component of the Tdap shot, which is intended to immunize for tetanus (lockjaw), diphtheria, alongside whooping cough. However, if you are not specific about the type of shot you want or need when visiting your physician, you’ll often get the Td (tetanus and diphtheria only). The Tetanus shot (Td or Tdap) is injected into the deltoid (shoulder) muscle and can be safely taken along with additional injections. Expect tenderness in injection site for a few days. With insurance, the amalgamated immunization is often included in the cost of the office co-pay/visit. Vaccination against pertussis is especially important for those in direct contact with pregnant women, infants, elderly, or people with compromised immune systems. Pregnant women are urged to get the Tdap during their 3rd trimester. Boosters are recommended every 7-10 years thereafter.

It’s important to keep up with your medical records, and when going from one doctor to another, making sure they have a copy of your immunization history along with other important archives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a Recommended Immunization Schedule and other informative information about the importance of regular inoculations.