DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis Vaccines): What You Need to Know (VIS)

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Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis are
serious diseases caused by bacteria.
Diphtheria and pertussis are
spread from person to person. Tetanus enters the body through cuts or
wounds.

DIPHTHERIA causes a thick covering
in the back of the throat.

  • It can lead to breathing problems,
    paralysis, heart failure, and even death.

TETANUS (Lockjaw) causes painful
tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body.

  • It can lead to “locking”
    of the jaw so the victim cannot open his mouth or swallow. Tetanus leads
    to death in about 2 out of 10 cases.

PERTUSSIS (Whooping Cough) causes
coughing spells so bad that it is hard for infants to eat, drink, or breathe.
These spells can last for weeks.

  • It can lead to pneumonia, seizures
    (jerking and staring spells), brain damage, and death.

Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine
(DTaP) can help prevent these diseases.
Most children who are
vaccinated with DTaP will be protected throughout childhood. Many more children
would get these diseases if we stopped vaccinating.

DTaP is a safer version of an older vaccine
called DTP. DTP is no longer used in the United States.

2. Who should get DTaP vaccine and when?

Children should get 5
doses
of DTaP vaccine, one dose at each of the following
ages:

  • ? 2 months

  • ? 4 months

  • ? 6 months

  • ? 15 to 18 months

  • ? 4 to 6 years

DTaP may be given at the same time as other
vaccines.

3. Some children should not get DTaP vaccine or should wait

  • Children with minor illnesses, such as a
    cold, may be vaccinated. But children who are moderately or severely ill
    should usually wait until they recover before getting DTaP vaccine.

  • Any child who had a life-threatening
    allergic reaction after a dose of DTaP should not get another dose.

  • Talk with your doctor if your child:

    • – had a seizure or collapsed
      after a dose of DTaP

    • – cried non-stop for 3 hours or
      more after a dose of DTaP

    • – had a fever over 105 degrees
      Fahrenheit after a dose of DTaP.

Ask your health care provider for more
information. Some of these children should not get another dose of pertussis,
but may get a vaccine without pertussis, called DT.

4. Older children and adults

DTaP should not be given to anyone 7 years of
age or older because pertussis vaccine is only licensed for children under
7.

But older people still need protection. A
vaccine called Tdap is similar to DTaP. A single dose of Tdap is
recommended for people 11 through 64 years of age. Another vaccine, called
Td, protects against tetanus and diphtheria, but not pertussis.
It is recommended every 10 years. There are separate Vaccine Information
Statements for these vaccines.

5. What are the risks from DTaP vaccine?

Getting diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis disease
is much riskier than getting DTaP vaccine.

However, a vaccine, like any medicine, is
capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk
of DTaP vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.

Mild Problems (Common)

  • Fever (up to about 1 child in 4)

  • Redness or swelling where the shot
    was given (up to about 1 child in 4)

  • Soreness or tenderness where the
    shot was given (up to about 1 child in 4)

These problems occur more often after the
4th and 5th doses of the DTaP series than after earlier doses.

Sometimes the 4th or 5th dose of DTaP
vaccine is followed by swelling of the entire arm or leg in which the shot
was given, for 1 to 7 days (up to about 1 child in 30).

Other mild problems include:

  • Fussiness (up to about 1 child
    in 3)

  • Tiredness or poor appetite (up
    to about 1 child in 10)

  • Vomiting (up to about 1 child in
    50)

These problems generally occur 1 to 3
days after the shot.

Moderate Problems (Uncommon)

  • Seizure (jerking or staring) (about
    1 child out of 14,000)

  • Non-stop crying, for 3 hours or more
    (up to about 1 child out of 1,000)

  • High fever, over 105 degrees
    Fahrenheit (about 1 child out of 16,000)

Severe Problems (Very Rare)

  • Serious allergic reaction (less than
    1 out of a million doses)

  • Several other severe problems have
    been reported after DTaP vaccine. These include:

    • – Long-term seizures, coma,
      or lowered consciousness

    • – Permanent brain
      damage.

These are so rare it is hard to tell if they
are caused by the vaccine.

Controlling fever is especially important for
children who have had seizures, for any reason. It is also important if
another family member has had seizures.

You can reduce fever and pain by giving your
child an aspirin-free pain reliever when the shot is given, and for the next
24 hours, following the package instructions.

6. What if there is a moderate or severe reaction?

What should I look for?

Any unusual conditions, such as a serious
allergic reaction, high fever or unusual behavior. Serious allergic
reactions are extremely rare with any vaccine. If one were to occur, it
would most likely be within a few minutes to a few hours after the shot.
Signs can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives,
paleness, weakness, a fast heart beat or dizziness. If a high fever or
seizure were to occur, it would usually be within a week after the shot.

What should I do?

  • Call a doctor or get
    the person to a doctor right away.

  • Tell your doctor what
    happened, the date and time it happened, and when the vaccination
    was given.

  • Ask your doctor, nurse,
    or health department to file a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting
    System (VAERS) form.

  • Or you can file this report through
    the VAERS web site at www.vaers.hhs.gov, or by calling
    1-800-822-7967. VAERS does not
    provide medical advice.

7. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

In the rare event that you or your child has a
serious reaction to a vaccine, a federal program has been created to help you
pay for the care of those who have been harmed.

For details about the National Vaccine Injury
Compensation Program, call 1- 800-338-2382 or visit the
program’s website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation.

8. How can I learn more?

  • Ask your health care provider. They can
    give you the vaccine package insert or suggest other sources of
    information.

  • Call your local or state health
    department’s immunization program.

  • Contact the Centers for Disease Control
    and Prevention (CDC):

    • – Call 1-800-232-4636
      (1-800-CDC-INFO)

    • – Visit the National
      Immunization Program’s website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines

  • U.S. Department of Health & Human
    Services

  • Centers for Disease Control and
    Prevention

  • Vaccine Information Statement

  • DTaP

  • May 17, 2007

  • 42 U.S.C. section 300aa-26