DT, DTaP, Td and Tdap: Understanding the Different Types of Tetanus Vaccines


Did you know that there are multiple types of tetanus vaccinations available?  There are four different types that are widely administered. Each one has different properties, and some may provide protection against other diseases as well. Accordingly, each vaccine may work in slightly different ways and may have different side effects. Many people get confused between the different types of tetanus vaccines. It is easy to do so since they have similar names. In fact, the vaccines that are given to children have the same names as the ones given to adults with the letters in a different order.

Here is some more information about the four major tetanus vaccines, including the age range of the recipients and what each vaccination protects against:

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What Are These Vaccines For?

First, we wanted to give you some background on tetanus itself. Tetanus is otherwise known as lockjaw, and it is a reaction to exposure to toxins found in soil, manure and other chemicals. It affects the central nervous system and is a very serious condition which can lead to death if it goes untreated. However, cases of tetanus in the U.S. have dropped 98 percent since 1948 when the first vaccines were introduced to the market.

DTaP vaccine

The DTaP vaccine is used to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. This vaccine is only given to children who are under seven years of age. Children are supposed to receive five doses of this vaccine.

The first vaccine is given to an infant when they are two months old. Four doses in total are given during the first 18 months of a child’s life. The last dose is administered when the child is between four and six years old. Immunity wears off over time so additional doses are necessary.

There are six different brands of DTap vaccines that are in use in the U.S., and there will be a seventh vaccine available in 2021. Each of the vaccines contains different mixes of the different toxoids of the three diseases.

The difference between the DTaP vaccine and other ones that cover these three diseases is that the DTaP vaccine is acellular as opposed to whole-cell. It uses less pertussis antigens so it has fewer complications.

Complications of the DTaP vaccine include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Severe allergic reactions in some cases
  • Fever

DT Vaccine

The DT vaccine is used to prevent both diphtheria and tetanus. Like the DTaP vaccine, the DT vaccine is also recommended for babies and children under the age of seven. The regular version of the vaccine in the U.S. is called Tenivac. There is also a generic version of the vaccine. The different types of vaccine have varying mixes of the diphtheria and tetanus toxoids. The versions of the vaccine may also contain aluminum as the adjuvant and formaldehyde.

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The DT vaccine is a way for children who should not get the pertussis vaccine to still be vaccinated against tetanus and diphtheria. Physicians will generally prefer to give the DTaP vaccine because it immunizes against more diseases with one injection.

The vaccination schedule for the DT vaccine is the same as the one for the DTap vaccine. Children are immunized for the first time at two months of age and receive five total vaccinations by the time that they reach the age of seven. Once they have completed their series of vaccinations, they move on to the booster shots that adults receive since there is no need for another vaccination for ten years.

Like other tetanus vaccines, DT can have side effects since a young child is absorbing two toxins into their body with one injection. The more severe side effects can include high fever, confusion, vomiting and seizures.

Tdap Vaccine

Once a child reaches the age of seven, they are finished with the course of vaccines for a period of time. This does not mean that they are done with the need for tetanus vaccine. The tetanus vaccine that people were given as children wears off after a certain period of time and loses its effectiveness. Thus, there is a need for a booster.

The Tdap vaccine was first licensed for use in 2005. It added protection from pertussis to the standard diphtheria and tetanus vaccine. Adolescents are first given the Tdap vaccine at the age of 11 or 12. The rule is that you only need one injection of Tdap. However, pregnant women are recommended to take one dose of the vaccine for each pregnancy. Patients do not need subsequent Tdap vaccinations. As you will see below, they do receive booster shots, but of a different vaccine.

Td Vaccine

After the patient receives the Tdap shot, the pertussis immunization is supposed to last for a lifetime (unless they are pregnant and need another dose). However, the tetanus immunity needs to be boosted from time to time. This is accomplished through a Td vaccination which immunizes from tetanus and diphtheria.

The general rule is that a tetanus vaccination lasts for about ten years. Thus, the patient should schedule a booster shot ten years after they have gotten the Tdap vaccine and then every ten years thereafter.

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Compensation for Tetanus Shot Injuries

Tetanus is a dangerous illness so the vaccination can prevent a life-threatening condition. However, there are side effects from tetanus shots. Those who receive all types of tetanus vaccinations can be eligible for compensation from the VICP. The rule of thumb is that any vaccine that is given to a child is eligible for VICP coverage. Tdap and Td are given to adolescents, making them compensable if the patient has been injured by the vaccine no matter how old the patient is. Of the vaccinations described above, Dtap and TDaP have the highest number of cases in which an injured patient received compensation from the VICP.

If a loved one has suffered a tetanus vaccine injury, contact the attorneys at Sadaka and Associates for a complementary evaluation of your case.  You may be able to receive compensation for your injuries through the vaccine court.


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The first step in helping yourself or a loved one after a serious vaccine related injury is to contact us for a free review of your case.

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