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Boostrix and Adacel are brand-name vaccines containing tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis vaccine. They’re approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help prevent Tdap, which is short for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Another name for pertussis is whooping cough.

The main similarities and differences between Boostrix and Adacel are explained in this article. If you’re considering getting one of these vaccines, talk with your doctor. Discussing this information with them can help you decide if one of these vaccines may be right for you.

Note: For more comprehensive information about Boostrix, you can refer to this article. If you’d like to learn more about Adacel, talk with your doctor.

Key differences between Boostrix and Adacel

These are a few of the main differences between Boostrix and Adacel:

  • Ages: To help prevent Tdap, Boostrix can be used in people ages 10 years and older. Adacel can be used for this purpose in people ages 10 to 64 years. (See “Uses of Boostrix vs. Adacel” below.)
  • Side effects: Boostrix may cause arm swelling, fatigue, and abdominal pain. Adacel isn’t known to cause these but may cause other side effects, such as body aches, muscle weakness, and sleepiness. (See “Side effects of Boostrix vs. Adacel” below.)

Below are answers to some common questions about Boostrix and Adacel.

How do Boostrix and Adacel differ in terms of pregnancy?

Boostrix is approved for use during pregnancy, but Adacel is not.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Boostrix to help prevent pertussis (whooping cough) in children younger than age 2 months. The vaccine is given during the third trimester of pregnancy (weeks 29 to 40). Adacel may also be given during pregnancy, but it’s not FDA approved for this specific use. If you’d like to learn more about the use of Boostrix or Adacel in pregnancy, talk with your doctor.

Do Boostrix and Adacel contain the same ingredients?

Boostrix and Adacel contain the same active ingredients: tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis vaccine. These are the ingredients that make Boostrix and Adacel work.

Boostrix and Adacel contain some different inactive ingredients. An inactive ingredient is a part of a drug product that does not have any effect on you like an active ingredient.

If you’d like to learn more about the ingredients of Boostrix and Adacel, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Here’s information about the generic and biosimilar status for Boostrix and Adacel, as well as their active ingredients.

BoostrixAdacel
Generic availablenono
Biosimilar* availablenono
Active ingredientstetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, acellular pertussis vaccinetetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, acellular pertussis vaccine
Drug classTdap vaccineTdap vaccine

* Boostrix and Adacel are biologic drugs, meaning they’re made from parts of living cells. This is different from traditional drugs, which are made from chemicals. The active drug in traditional brand-name medications can be copied exactly and made available as generics. However, biologics cannot be copied exactly. So instead of generics, biologics have biosimilars.

Boostrix and Adacel have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help prevent the following.

  • Both Boostrix and Adacel are FDA approved to help prevent:
  • Boostrix is also FDA approved to help prevent:
    • Tdap in adults ages 65 years and older

Boostrix or Adacel and children

Boostrix and Adacel have been approved by the FDA to help prevent the following in children.

  • Both Boostrix and Adacel are FDA approved to help prevent:
    • Tdap in children ages 10 years and older
  • Boostrix is also FDA approved to help prevent:
    • pertussis in children ages 2 months and younger, when given during the third trimester (weeks 29 to 40) of pregnancy

Note: For more information about the uses of Boostrix, see our article about Boostrix or talk with your doctor. They can also tell you more about Adacel.

Here’s a quick look at the dosage and administration of Boostrix and Adacel for the conditions both vaccines help prevent.

Dosage for the prevention of tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis

Below are the dosages of Boostrix and Adacel in helping prevent Tdap, which is short for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). In this table, milliliter is abbreviated as “mL.”

Boostrix for the prevention of TdapAdacel for the prevention of Tdap
Forms• liquid suspension in 0.5-mL single-use vial, given by intramuscular injection
• liquid suspension in 0.5-mL single-use syringe, given by intramuscular injection
• liquid suspension in 0.5-mL single-use vial, given by intramuscular injection
• liquid suspension in 0.5-mL single-use syringe, given by intramuscular injection
Dose0.5 mL0.5 mL
Frequencyvaries depending on your specific situation but is typically given at least 5 years after your previous dose of a vaccine for Tdapvaries depending on your specific situation but is typically given at least 5 years after your previous dose of a vaccine for Tdap
Given byhealthcare professional (see below)healthcare professional (see below)

Your doctor or another healthcare professional will administer Boostrix or Adacel. They’ll give you the vaccine as an injection into the muscle of your upper arm.

Note: For more information about the dosage of Boostrix, see this article or talk with your doctor. They can also tell you more about Adacel’s dosage.

Boostrix and Adacel both contain tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis vaccine. These vaccines can cause some of the same side effects, as well as some different ones. Some of the side effects reported in clinical trials of these vaccines are mentioned below.

For more information about side effects, see our Boostrix article. You can also refer to the prescribing information for Boostrix or Adacel. Your doctor and pharmacist are also good resources.

Mild side effects

The following table lists some of the more commonly reported mild side effects of Boostrix and Adacel. The table may also include less common mild side effects that you might have concerns about in some cases.

Mild side effectsBoostrixAdacel
swelling, pain, or discoloration around the injection site
arm swelling
headache
fatigue
nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
abdominal pain
body aches
muscle weakness or pain
sleepiness
malaise (general feeling of illness or discomfort)
mild allergic reaction*

These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. If the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* An allergic reaction is possible after using Boostrix or Adacel, but this side effect wasn’t reported in clinical trials of either vaccine.

Serious side effects

The following table lists the reported serious side effects of Boostrix and Adacel.

Serious side effectsBoostrixAdacel
severe allergic reaction*

If you have serious side effects while using Boostrix or Adacel, call your doctor immediately. If the side effects feel life threatening or you believe you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

* An allergic reaction is possible after using Boostrix or Adacel, but this side effect wasn’t reported in clinical trials of either vaccine.

Below are details about the effectiveness of Boostrix and Adacel.

Prescribing information. For information about how these vaccines performed in clinical trials, see the prescribing information for Boostrix and Adacel. Keep in mind that trial results may not apply to your individual health situation.

Vaccine guidelines. Another way to see whether a vaccine is considered effective is to look at vaccine guidelines. When an organization includes certain vaccines in its guidelines, this means that research has shown the vaccine to be safe and effective.

Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend Boostrix and Adacel as vaccine options to help prevent Tdap. That’s short for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).

How much Boostrix or Adacel costs depends on your insurance plan, your pharmacy, and the facility where you receive the vaccine. You can visit Optum Perks for price estimates of Boostrix and Adacel.

Both Boostrix and Adacel are brand-name vaccines. Neither vaccine is available in a biosimilar form. (To learn more, see “Generics or biosimilars: Boostrix and Adacel” above.)

For information about Medicare vaccine coverage, see this article.

Boostrix and Adacel may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. The two vaccines share some of the same precautions, but they also have different ones. Some of these precautions are mentioned below.

If any of the following medical conditions or other health factors are relevant to you, talk with your doctor before getting Boostrix or Adacel.

PrecautionBoostrixAdacel
if you’ve had an allergic reaction to the vaccine or any of its ingredients
if you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant
if you’re breastfeeding or thinking about breastfeeding
if you have an allergy to latex
if you had Guillain-Barré syndrome after getting a tetanus vaccine in the past
if you had a serious brain condition called encephalopathy after getting a pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine in the past
if you have problems with your nervous system, such as epilepsy or multiple sclerosis
if you have a weakened immune system

Note: For more comprehensive information, you can refer to our Boostrix article and talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can also supply details about Adacel.

Switching between Boostrix and Adacel might be possible.

If you’d like to know more about switching between Boostrix and Adacel, talk with your doctor. They can give you additional details and help determine the best course of action for your personal situation. Even if two vaccines help prevent the same conditions or are in the same drug class, your body can still respond differently.

Your doctor can advise you on whether you’re due for any vaccines and which ones are right for you.

When comparing Boostrix and Adacel, there are a couple of key points to keep in mind.

Some side effects differ between the vaccines. Boostrix may cause abdominal pain, fatigue, and arm swelling. Adacel may cause muscle weakness and pain, sleepiness, and body aches.

For the prevention of Tdap, Boostrix can be used in adults ages 65 years and older. Adacel is not approved for use in this age range.

If you’d like to learn more about Boostrix or Adacel, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help answer any questions you have about similarities and differences between the vaccines. They can also help determine whether one vaccine or the other might work well for you.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.