Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are 3 very serious diseases that can typically be prevented through vaccinations. Currently, there are two vaccinations approved for immunization against these three diseases: Boostrix and Adacel. These vaccines are called Tdap vaccinations which are combination vaccinations that protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (hence the name Tdap)
But what is the difference between Boostrix and Adacel? And when should you get them?
First off, what are these diseases?
- Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is a rare infection caused by bacteria. Tetanus can cause painful muscle tightening all over the body, including the head and neck. This tightening can make it difficult to swallow or breathe. People can get tetanus from getting pricked by a rusty nail or needle.
- Diphtheria is a rare infection spread from person-to-person through bacteria in respiratory secretions like coughing or sneezing. A diphtheria infection can cause a thick, gray coating to build up in the throat or nose, making it difficult to swallow or breathe.
- Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is an infection spread from person-to-person through respiratory secretions such as coughing or sneezing. A pertussis infection can cause severe coughing spells which may make it difficult to breathe and can lead vomiting and disturbed sleep.
When should someone get a Tdap vaccination?
A person should typically receive their one-dose Tdap vaccination around the age of 11 or 12. Pregnant mothers should also receive a dose of Tdap to protect their newborn babies from pertussis. Additionally, some people may be given a dose of Tdap after a severe cut or burn to prevent a tetanus infection.
What is the difference between Boostrix and Adacel?
The biggest difference is the age that the vaccines are recommended for. While Adacel is indicated for patients 10-64 years old, Boostrix is indicated for patients 10 years of age and older. Currently, Boostrix is the only Tdap vaccine indicated in patients 65 years of age and older!
What Tdap vaccine should pregnant women receive?
First off, ask your doctor. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) does not recommend one vaccine over the other.
However, according to the official manufacturer package insert, Boostrix is considered Category B, whereas Adacel is considered Category C. Category B vaccines have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus, whereas category C vaccines have shown a adverse effects on the fetus. These categories are based on animal studies as there have been no well-controlled studies done in pregnant women.
What is the difference between Tdap and DTaP?
You may have wondered if there is a difference between Tdap vaccinations and DTaP vaccinations, as they treat the same diseases. The difference is as follows:
- The DTaP vaccine is for infants and children to initially protect them against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. This vaccine is a 5 part series, and is given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, and 4-6 years.
- The Tdap vaccine is for adolescents and adults, as young as age 10, as a booster to proved extra protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
For more information on vaccinations, see the CDC’s vaccination schedule for children and adults here.