Current Edition Date: 5/17/2007
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.
TETANUS (Lockjaw) causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body.
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.
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.
Children should get 5 doses of DTaP vaccine, one dose at each of the following ages:
DTaP may be given at the same time as other vaccines.
Ask your doctor for more information. Some of these children should not get another dose of pertussis vaccine, but may get a vaccine without pertussis, called DT.
DTaP is not licensed for adolescents, adults, or children 7 years of age and older.
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.
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.
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, lasting 1-7 days (up to about 1 child in 30).
These problems generally occur 1-3 days after the shot.
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.
Look for anything that concerns you, such as signs of a severe allergic reaction, very high fever, or behavior changes.
Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
VAERS is only for reporting reactions. They do not give medical advice.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines.
Persons who believe they may have been injured by a vaccine can learn about the program and about filing a claim by calling 1-800-338-2382 or visiting the VICP website.
42 U.S.C. Â§ 300aa-26