Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio (Tdap-IPV) vaccine

Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio (Tdap-IPV) vaccine

Last Updated: May 1, 2022
HealthLinkBC File Number: 15a
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Keep your child safe.
Get all vaccines on time.
By getting all vaccines on time, your child can be protected from many diseases over a lifetime.

Immunization has saved more lives in Canada in the last 50 years than any other health measure.

What is the Tdap-IPV vaccine?

The Tdap-IPV vaccine protects against 4 diseases:

  • Tetanus
  • Diphtheria
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Polio

The vaccine is approved by Health Canada and is provided free as part of your child's routine immunizations. Call your health care provider to make an appointment.

Who should get the Tdap-IPV vaccine?

The vaccine is given as one dose to children at 4 to 6 years of age. This is a booster dose for children who were immunized against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis and polio at a younger age. The booster dose strengthens or boosts the immune system to give better protection against these diseases.

The vaccine is also provided free to older children and adults who need protection against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis and polio.

For more information see the following HealthLinkBC Files:

It is important to keep a record of all immunizations received.

What are the benefits of Tdap-IPV vaccine?

The Tdap-IPV vaccine is the best way to protect against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio, which are serious and sometimes fatal diseases.

When you get your child immunized, you help protect others as well.

What are the possible reactions after the vaccine?

Vaccines are very safe. It is safer to get the vaccine than to get one of the diseases.

Common reactions to the vaccine may include soreness, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given. Fever, chills, headache and fatigue may also occur. These reactions are mild and generally last 1 to 2 days. Large areas of redness and swelling may be present but these generally do not interfere with normal activity.

Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (e.g. Advil®) can be taken for fever or soreness. ASA (e.g. Aspirin®) should not be given to anyone under 18 years of age due to the risk of Reye Syndrome.

For information on Reye Syndrome, see HealthLinkBC File #84 Reye Syndrome.

It is important to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting any vaccine because there is an extremely rare possibility, less than 1 in a million, of a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This may include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the throat, tongue or lips. If this reaction occurs, your health care provider is prepared to treat it. Emergency treatment includes administration of epinephrine (adrenalin) and transport by ambulance to the nearest emergency department. If symptoms develop after you leave the clinic, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

It is important to always report serious or unexpected reactions to your health care provider.

Who should not get the Tdap-IPV vaccine?

Speak with your health care provider if you or your child has had a life-threatening reaction to a previous dose of a tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis or polio vaccine, or any part of the vaccine, including neomycin, polymyxin B, or streptomycin. The vaccine is not given to children under 4 years of age.

People who developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) within 8 weeks of getting a tetanus vaccine, without another cause being identified, should not get the Tdap-IPV vaccine.

GBS is a rare condition that can result in weakness and paralysis of the body's muscles. It most commonly occurs after infections, but in rare cases can also occur after some vaccines.

There is no need to delay getting immunized because of a cold or other mild illness. However, if you have concerns, speak with your health care provider.

What are tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and polio?

Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is caused by bacteria mostly found in the soil. When the bacteria enter the skin through a cut or scrape, they produce a poison that can cause painful tightening of muscles all over the body. It is very serious if the breathing muscles are affected. Up to 1 in 5 people who get tetanus may die.

Diphtheria is a serious infection of the nose and throat caused by diphtheria bacteria. The bacteria are spread through the air by people sneezing or coughing and by direct skin-to-skin contact. The disease can result in very serious breathing problems. It can also cause heart failure and paralysis. About 1 in 10 people who get diphtheria may die.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a serious infection of the airways caused by pertussis bacteria. The bacteria are easily spread by coughing, sneezing or close face-to-face contact. Pertussis can cause pneumonia, seizures, brain damage or death. These complications are seen most often in infants. Pertussis can cause severe coughing that often ends with a whooping sound before the next breath. This cough can last several months and occurs more often at night. About 1 in 170 infants who get pertussis may die. For more information about pertussis, see HealthLinkBC File #15c Pertussis (Whooping Cough).

Polio is a disease caused by infection with a virus. While most polio infections show no symptoms, others can result in paralysis of arms or legs and even death. Paralysis occurs in about 1 in 200 people infected with the polio virus. Polio can be spread by contact with the bowel movements (stool) of an infected person. This can happen from eating food or drinking water contaminated with stool.

Tetanus, diphtheria and polio are now rare in B.C. because of routine childhood immunization programs. Whooping cough still occurs but is much less common than it used to be and is much milder in immunized people.