People of all ages benefit from Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (dtap) 

The Dtap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whoopin cough (pertussis). The Dtap vaccine is suitable as a booster vaccine for adolescents and adults. All three diseases are serious and, despite treatment, can even lead to death at worst.


Tetanus can be acquired from the soil, for example, through a wound or animal bite. The disease is caused by a toxin secreted by a bacteria called Clostridium tetani. The bacterium is common all over the world.

You can get the infection for example, from an injury, a rusty nail, or a skin rash from gardening. This is why tetanus protection is very important for people of all ages. The Dtap vaccine provides excellent protection against tetanus. Tetanus is difficult to treat and despite treatment, 1-2 out of ten patients die.


Diphtheria is an inflammation of the upper respiratory tract or skin caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Typically, the disease causes the airways to swell and become inflamed, which can cause severe breathing difficulties and sometimes suffocation. The poison secreted by the bacterium can also cause serious consequences after the primary disease. 5-10% of treated patients die.

The Dtap vaccine provides excellent prevention of severe diphtheria. Thanks to vaccinations, the incidence of diphtheria in Finland has remained low in recent decades.

Whooping cough (pertussis)

Whooping cough is a respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It occurs in people of all ages, but the disease is most dangerous for small babies. The typical symptom of whooping cough is a spasmodic, staggering cough that lasts for several weeks. In young babies, pneumonia occurs in 10-25%, and symptoms may include seizures and brain disease. Less than 1% of affected infants under 2 years of age die from the disease.

In Finland, babies receive the first pertussis vaccine (combination vaccine Dtap-IPV-Hib) at 3 months of age and are unprotected before this. Infection is then possible from parents, siblings or grandparents. By taking the dtap vaccine, adults can protect the youngest in the family from whooping cough. In some countries, all pregnant women are vaccinated with the dtap vaccine. When the vaccine is taken during the third trimester of pregnancy, it also protects the newborn. The vaccine should be given in late pregnancy so that your baby will have the best protection after birth.

The protection against whooping cough lasts about five years and has a protective efficacy of about 80%. In recent years, efforts have been made to improve herd protection in Finland by vaccinating young adults at 25 years of age. Also social and health care personnel working with small children are being vaccinated. So far, Finland has avoided extensive whooping cough epidemics. In previous years, there have been about 400-550 cases of the disease per year.

Dtap vaccine in the national vaccination program

The Dtap vaccine is given as a booster vaccine as part of a national vaccination programme in Finland at the age of 14-15 years and to young adults at the age of 25 years. Young adults forget easily to take the booster, as previous vaccination has been given at school health care. Vaccines in the national vaccination program are free for everyone living permanently in Finland and can be obtained from your own health center. The vaccine can also be conveniently obtained from our clinics without an appointment. 

Additional protection with Dtap vaccine

People over the age of 45 receive the Dt vaccine (diphtheria and tetanus) in the national vaccination programme every 10-20 years depending on age. Dt vaccine does not protect against whooping cough. The dtap vaccine, which provides also protection against whooping cough, is also available on our vaccination clinics. Dtap vaccine can be given to people of all ages.

The dtap vaccine is of a particular benefit to adults over 65 years and all adults with chronic lung disease. These groups are are more likely to have whooping cough with more severe symptoms and are more susceptible to secondary diseases. Prolonged cough, more nocturnal symptoms, and an increased need for medication have been reported by people with astma who are infected with whooping cough.

In the event of an accident

If you get a dirty wound, you should urgently check how long it has been since the previous tetanus booster. If it is more than 5 years since the previous vaccination, the booster dose should be given immediately. If the risk of infection is high (e.g deep dirty wound, bite of an animal, stepping on a rusty nail, burn), it may also be necessary to consider tetanus immunoglobulin and antibiotics. Your doctor will assess the need for other treatments, but you should get the tetanus booster as quickly as possible. In some professions and hobbies, the risk of injury and getting wounds is increased, so tetanus vaccination may be considered every ten years. Also when travelling to countries with limited health care services, you should consider taking tetanus booster in every ten years.

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