Top of the page
Get protected, get immunized.
This vaccine gets its name from the diseases it protects against: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough).
Diphtheria is a nose and throat infection caused by bacteria. It spreads by coughing, sneezing, or having close contact with someone who has diphtheria. It can cause trouble breathing or swallowing, heart failure, and paralysis (not being able to move a part of your body).
Up to 1 out of 10 people who get diphtheria will die. In children under 5 years and adults older than 40 years, 2 to 4 out of 10 people who get diphtheria can die.
Tetanus is a bacterial infection that causes uncontrolled movements (spasms) in the muscles of the jaw and other muscles of the body.
Tetanus bacteria are common in dirt, manure (animal stool used as fertilizer), and human stool. They can get into the body through a cut on the skin or an animal bite.
Tetanus can cause:
About 1 to 8 out of 10 people who get tetanus and are not immunized can die. Babies and older adults are most at risk.
Tetanus infection is rare because there has been a vaccine since the 1940s. Most people have been immunized against it.
Pertussis is an infection of the airways and lungs caused by bacteria. It spreads by coughing, sneezing, or having contact with someone who is infected. Pertussis can cause:
In rare cases, pertussis can lead to seizures, brain injury, and death.
Grade 9 students can get the dTap vaccine as part of the school immunization program. Younger children may also get this vaccine if they are at least age 7 years and:
If you’re an adult, you should have this vaccine if:
In Alberta, a dTap vaccine is recommended in every pregnancy. It helps protect your baby during their first few months of life, especially against pertussis. It is best if you get the dTap vaccine when you are between 27 and 32 weeks pregnant. If you’re outside of this time, talk to your healthcare provider because you may also get this vaccine earlier or later in your pregnancy.
If you had your routine immunizations on schedule, you need an extra dose (booster) of dTap at the following times:
If you’re getting immunized for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis for the first time, you need 3 doses.
If you’re healthy and get all of the recommended doses, the protection is:
It’s important to get booster doses because the protection may weaken over time.
Grade 9 students can get the vaccine in school. Parents and guardians will get an information package that includes a consent form. If you want your child to get the vaccine in school, you must complete and sign the consent form and return it according to the instructions provided.
Children and adults can also get the dTap vaccine at your local public health office or community health centre.
If you’re pregnant, you can also get the dTap vaccine at a pharmacy. Some doctor's offices also give the vaccine.
If you’re at risk for tetanus after an injury or wound, you can get the dTap vaccine at an urgent care centre, emergency department, doctor’s office, or walk-in clinic.
There can be side effects from the dTap vaccine, but they tend to be mild and go away in a few days. Side effects may include:
At least 1 out of 100 people who got this vaccine reported 1 or more of these side effects. In some cases, it is unknown if the vaccine caused these side effects.
It’s important to stay at the clinic for 15 minutes after your vaccine. Some people may have a rare but serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. If anaphylaxis happens, you will get medicine to treat the symptoms.
It’s rare to have a serious side effect after a vaccine. Call Health Link at 811 to report any serious or unusual side effects.
You may not be able get this vaccine if:
If you have allergies or have had a side effect from this vaccine, check with your doctor or a public health nurse before you get the vaccine.
Although you can still get the vaccine if you have a mild illness, such as a cold or fever, you should stay home until you are feeling better to prevent spreading your illness to others.
Many adults and children are afraid of needles. You can do many things before, during, and after immunization to be more comfortable. Visit Commitment to Comfort for tips to make immunization a better experience.
To see this information online and learn more, visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca/health/pages/conditions.aspx?Hwid=custom.ab_imm_dtap_inst.
For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.
Current as of: July 14, 2023
Author: Provincial Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.