Updated: December 5, 2017
It is important that children, especially infants and young children, receive recommended immunizations on time. Vaccines also protect teenagers and adults to keep them healthy throughout their lives.
Diphtheria is a respiratory disease that causes a thick covering on the back of the throat. Usually it is caused by bacteria. Gradual onset of sore throat and mild fever are the common symptoms of diphtheria. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and even death. Diphtheria is contagious and can spread person-to-person by coughing and sneezing.
There are four combination vaccines used to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough). These are DTaP, Tdap, DT, and Td.
DTaP and DT are given to children younger than seven years of age where as Tdap and Td are given to older children and adults.
Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis are serious diseases caused by bacteria. Diphtheria and pertussis can spreads easily from infected people where as tetanus enters the body through cuts or wounds.
Diphtheria causes a thick covering in the back of the throat which can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and even death.
Tetanus causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body which can lead to locking of the jaw. In this condition the patient cannot open his mouth or swallow.
Tetanus can cause death very rarely.
Pertussis causes coughing spells so bad that it is hard for infants to eat, drink, or breathe. These spells can last for weeks which can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and death.
DTaP is a safer version of an older vaccine called DTP. It can help prevent these diseases. DT does not contain pertussis and is used as a substitute for DTaP for children who cannot tolerate pertussis vaccine.
There should be 5 doses of DTaP vaccine given to the children at the age of 2,4,6,15 to 18 months and 4 to 6 years respectively.
DTaP may be given at the same time as other vaccines.
Consult your doctor if your child:
DTaP is not licensed for adolescents, adults, or children aged 7 years and older. The vaccine is not recommended for these group.
A vaccine can cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. Reactions are usually more likely after the fourth or fifth dose than the early one. The risk include:
For children who have had seizures, for any reason, it is important to control fever. You can reduce fever and pain by giving your child an aspirin-free pain reliever when the shot is given. Follow the package instructions for the next 24 hours.
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. If you have severe allergic reaction, very high fever, or behavior changes , call 9-1-1 or find the nearest hospital.
The reaction should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) through the VAERS website or by calling 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions. They do not give medical advice.
If you are injured by a vaccine, you can file a claim in National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) by calling 1-800-338-2382 or visiting the VICP website to get the compensation.