Hung Fu Tseng and his team at Kaiser Permanente Southern California found adverse events following the Tdap vaccination in seniors were mostly minor.
"Although there is a small increased risk of injection site reaction following Tdap vaccination in the elderly, it is no more common than that following the traditional tetanus and diphtheria vaccine," Tseng said in a statement.
The study involved 119,573 seniors who received the Tdap vaccine and the same number of people who received the traditional Td vaccine. Safety data were collected from seven U.S. health maintenance organizations.
The study, published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, found the risk for adverse events following vaccination was comparable among both groups.
The authors said the findings should allay any fears among older adults about the safety of the Tdap vaccine and prompt more doctors to urge across-the-board immunization, which is crucial in the wake of recent pertussis, or whooping cough outbreaks, such as those in Minnesota, Washington state, Wisconsin and elsewhere.
Current recommendations call for infants older than 2 months, children, teens, adults -- including pregnant women, parents and healthcare workers -- and those age 65 and older to be vaccinated.
"Pertussis immunization is important, particularly since one of the most common sources of pertussis in infants is their relatives, including their grandparents," Tseng said in a statement. "We suggest that clinicians follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation and talk to older adult patients about vaccination against pertussis to protect themselves and their family members."