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tetanus and diphtheria toxoids vaccine (Td, adult)

Pronunciation: TET a nus and dif THEER ee a TOX oids

Brand: Decavac (Td), Tetanus-Diphtheria Toxoids, Adult (Td)

What is the most important information I should know about this vaccine?

The tetanus and diphtheria toxoids vaccine is given in a series of shots. The first shot is usually given to a person who is at least 7 years old. The booster shots are then given 4 to 8 weeks after the first shot, and 6 to 12 months after the second shot. After the initial series, a booster dose is given every 10 years.

A booster shot is also recommended in children who are 11 or 12 years old if more than 5 years have passed since the child's last tetanus and diphtheria vaccine.

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If it has been longer than 5 years since your last booster, you may need an emergency booster shot if you have been exposed to tetanus through a skin wound.

Your individual booster schedule may be different from these guidelines. Follow your doctor's instructions or the schedule recommended by the health department of the state you live in.

The adult version of this vaccine (Td) should not be given to anyone under the age of 7 years old. Another vaccine is available for use in younger children and infants.

Be sure you receive all recommended doses of this vaccine. If you do not receive the full series of vaccines, you may not be fully protected against the disease.

You can still receive a vaccine if you have a cold or fever. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.

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You should not receive a booster vaccine if you have had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. When you receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shots caused any side effects.

Becoming infected with tetanus or diphtheria is much more dangerous to your health than receiving the vaccine to protect against these diseases. Like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects, but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

What is tetanus and diphtheria toxoids vaccine?

Tetanus and diphtheria are serious diseases caused by bacteria.

Tetanus (lockjaw) causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. It can lead to "locking" of the jaw so the victim cannot open the mouth or swallow. Tetanus leads to death in about 1 out of 10 cases.

Diphtheria causes a thick coating in the nose, throat, and airways. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, or death.

Diphtheria is spread from person to person. Tetanus enters the body through a cut or wound.

The tetanus and diphtheria toxoids vaccine (also called Td) is used to help prevent these diseases in adults and children who are at least 7 years old.

This vaccine works by exposing you to a small dose of the bacteria or a protein from the bacteria, which causes the body to develop immunity to the disease. This vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.

Like any vaccine, the tetanus and diphtheria toxoids vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving this vaccine?

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You should not receive this vaccine if you have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any vaccine containing diphtheria or tetanus, or if you have:

  • severe or uncontrolled epilepsy or other seizure disorder; or
  • if you have received cancer chemotherapy or radiation treatment in the past 3 months.

You may not be able to receive this vaccine if you have ever received a similar vaccine that caused any of the following:

  • a very high fever (over 104 degrees);
  • a neurologic disorder or disease affecting the brain;
  • fainting or going into shock;
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome (within 6 weeks after receiving a diphtheria, tetanus, or pertussis vaccine);
  • seizure (convulsions); or
  • a severe skin reaction.

Before receiving this vaccine, tell the doctor if you have:

  • a bleeding or blood clotting disorder such as hemophilia or easy bruising;
  • a history of seizures;
  • a neurologic disorder or disease affecting the brain (or if this was a reaction to a previous vaccine);
  • an allergy to latex rubber;
  • a weak immune system caused by disease, bone marrow transplant, or by using certain medicines or receiving cancer treatments; or
  • if you are taking a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin).

You can still receive a vaccine if you have a cold or fever. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.

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Vaccines may be harmful to an unborn baby and generally should not be given to a pregnant woman. However, not vaccinating the mother could be more harmful to the baby if the mother becomes infected with a disease that this vaccine could prevent. Your doctor will decide whether you should receive this vaccine, especially if you have a high risk of infection with diphtheria or tetanus.

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It is not known whether this vaccine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use receive the vaccine without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

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The adult version of this vaccine (Td) should not be given to anyone under the age of 7 years old. Another vaccine is available for use in younger children and infants.

How is this vaccine given?

This vaccine is given as an injection (shot) into a muscle. You will receive this injection in a doctor's office or other clinic setting.

The tetanus and diphtheria toxoids vaccine is given in a series of shots. The first shot is usually given to a person who is at least 7 years old. The booster shots are then given 4 to 8 weeks after the first shot, and 6 to 12 months after the second shot. After the initial series, a booster dose is given every 10 years.

A booster shot is also recommended in children who are 11 or 12 years old if more than 5 years have passed since the child's last tetanus and diphtheria vaccine.

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If it has been longer than 5 years since your last booster, you may need an emergency booster shot if you have been exposed to tetanus through a skin wound.

Your individual booster schedule may be different from these guidelines. Follow your doctor's instructions or the schedule recommended by the health department of the state you live in.

Your doctor may recommend treating fever and pain with an aspirin-free pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, and others) when the shot is given and for the next 24 hours. Follow the label directions or your doctor's instructions about how much of this medicine to take.

It is especially important to prevent fever from occurring if you have a seizure disorder such as epilepsy.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you will miss a booster dose or if you get behind schedule. The next dose should be given as soon as possible. There is no need to start over.

Be sure you receive all recommended doses of this vaccine. If you do not receive the full series of vaccines, you may not be fully protected against the disease.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid before or after receiving this vaccine?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

What are the possible side effects of this vaccine?

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You should not receive a booster vaccine if you have had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

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Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. When you receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shots caused any side effects.

Becoming infected with tetanus or diphtheria is much more dangerous to your health than receiving the vaccine to protect against these diseases. Like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects, but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

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Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • extreme drowsiness, fainting;
  • severe headache or vomiting;
  • confusion, seizure (black-out or convulsions); or
  • high fever.

Less serious side effects include:

  • redness, pain, tenderness, swelling, or a hard lump where the shot was given;
  • mild fever;
  • joint pain, body aches;
  • mild drowsiness; or
  • mild vomiting.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.

What other drugs will affect tetanus and diphtheria toxoids vaccine?

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Before receiving this vaccine, tell your doctor about all other vaccines you have recently received.

Also tell the doctor if you have received drugs or treatments in the past 2 weeks that can weaken the immune system, including:

  • an oral, nasal, inhaled, or injectable steroid medicine;
  • medications to treat psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disorders, such as azathioprine (Imuran), efalizumab (Raptiva), etanercept (Enbrel), leflunomide (Arava), and others; or
  • medicines to treat or prevent organ transplant rejection, such as basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral, Gengraf), muromonab-CD3 (Orthoclone), mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept), sirolimus (Rapamune), or tacrolimus (Prograf).

This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can affect this vaccine. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you are using. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor or pharmacist may have information about this vaccine written for health professionals that you may read. You may also find additional information from your local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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