Last updated on December 1st, 2020 at 10:15 am

Diphtheria (DTap, Tdap, Td)

Schedule: CDC recommends that all children  get 5 doses of DTaP (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis) vaccine, beginning at 2 months of age. If your child misses a dose or gets behind schedule, make sure they get the next dose as soon as possible. Older children, teens, and adults should receive one dose of Tdap vaccine and after that, a Td booster dose every 10 years. 

Diphtheria once was a major cause of illness and death among children. The United States recorded 206,000 cases of diphtheria in 1921 and 15,520 deaths. Before there was treatment for diphtheria, up to half of the people who got the disease died from it.

Starting in the 1920s, diphtheria rates dropped quickly in the United States and other countries with the widespread use of vaccines. In the past decade, there were less than five cases of diphtheria in the United States reported to CDC. However, the disease continues to cause illness globally. In 2014, 7,321 cases of diphtheria were reported to the World Health Organization, but there are likely many more cases.


CDC’s Diphtheria page offers accurate information and resources for all.

Information and resources for clinicians provides resources from federal agencies for the general public and their communities about vaccines across the lifespan.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia provides questions and answers about Diptheria (DTap, Tdap, Td) from the Vaccine Education Center.

Immunization Action Coalition offers free information and downloads for healthcare providers, parents and coalitions.

Pennsylvania School Immunization Regulation, Tdap: 

The Pennsylvania school immunization regulations require a dose of Tdap for students for entry into 7th grade or for entry into an ungraded class in the school year that the student is 12 years of age.  The school immunization regulations are based in part on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) schedule.  The 2019 ACIP schedule recommends Tdap vaccine be given at age 11-12.  This is the ideal and preferred age group for administration of the vaccine.  We understand there are times when a 10-year-old who is up-to-date with vaccination may receive the Tdap dose.  Therefore, in addition to the ACIP notes about Tdap, the following will meet the Pennsylvania school immunization requirements:  a 10 year old who is already up-to-date with vaccinations that intentionally receives Tdap due to receiving a school physical is considered to have received a valid and accepted dose that may be counted as the 7th grade Tdap dose and does not need to have the vaccine repeated at age 11-12.  (from Jennifer Bixler BSN, RN I Public Health Program Manager; Department of Health I Division of Immunizations)


Children's Hospital of Philadelphia on DTap

2021 Pennsylvania Immunization Coalition
204 St. Charles Way, Unit 303E, York, Pennsylvania 17402
PH: 484-446-3040 FX: 484-446-3255 Email:

The PAIC web site provides immunization information for your general knowledge and is in no way intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding immunizations.

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