TDAP vaccine: It s not just for kids

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Most grown-ups think about the TDAP vaccine (against tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis), if at all, only when they glance over childhood immunization records, and forget about it thereafter. Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now advising older adults to think again.

With the FDA s approval of Boostrix, a TDAP vaccine for adults over age 65, the CDC has recommended this vaccine for older adults who will be in contact with an infant younger than one year. As Paula Span explains in her New York Times column, the biggest concern is pertussis whooping cough. Older adults who haven t had a TDAP booster can easily contract the infection, and then spread it to an infant who is too young for vaccination and for whom the disease is much more dangerous. Last year alone, the CDC recorded 27,550 cases of pertussis, as well as 25 infant deaths.

Span notes that a TDAP booster can easily be administered when a person goes to get a flu shot, which means that as preventive measures go this one s not much of a hassle. ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross, while observing that pertussis is rarely a major problem for adults, stresses that anyone who plans to be around vulnerable populations, such as very young infants, should make sure to get a booster every 10 years.