Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis are serious illnesses caused by bacteria.
Diphtheria causes a thick covering in the back of the throat and can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and even death. It can be spread by person-to-person contact.
Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, causes the muscles throughout the body to tighten painfully. It also causes the muscles in the jaw to lock. It enters the body through cuts or wounds. Death occurs in about 2 out of 10 cases.
Pertussis, also known as â€œwhooping cough,â€ causes coughing fits that inhibit infants from eating, drinking, or breathing, and can last for weeks. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, brain damage, seizures, and death. It is spread by person-to-person contact.
The DTaP vaccine is given to help prevent Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. It is given 5 times throughout childhood. The first dose is given at 2 months. The second dose is given at 4 months. The third dose is given at 6 months. The fourth dose is given at 15-18 months and the final dose is given at 4-6 years. If vaccinated in childhood, most children are protected into adulthood. DTaP is a much safer version of the DTP vaccine that used to be administered. DTP has been discontinued in the United States.
There are other versions of the DTaP vaccine that are administered to adults. The most common are Tdap, which is given to people 11-64 years of age. The second is Td, which only contains protection against diphtheria and tetanus. This vaccine is given to adults every 10 years.
Risks of Diphtheria, Tetanus & Pertussis Vaccine
As with all medications, some people experience allergic reactions. Signs of an allergic reaction include high fever, behavioral changes, difficulty breathing, wheezing, hoarseness, hives, paleness, weakness, quickened heartbeat, and dizziness. If any of these symptoms occur, contact your health care provider immediately and seek medical attention.
Other risks include fever, redness, swelling or tenderness at the injection site, swelling of the entire arm or leg in which the injection was given (usually around the 4th or 5th dose), fussiness, tiredness, poor appetite or vomiting.
More severe risks that require medical attention include seizure, non-stop crying for 3 hrs or more, high fever or allergic reaction. Coma, lowered consciousness, permanent brain damage have been know to occur, however these are rare and are still not known to be linked to the actual vaccine.
Is the vaccine right for you?
The five-step DTaP routine should be started as soon as your child reaches 2 months of age. Talk to your childâ€™s heath care provider if your child has a moderate to sever illness, has had a life threatening allergic reaction to one of the DTaP injections, suffered a brain or nervous system disease within 7 days of a DTaP injection, or suffered any severe side effect of the DTaP vaccine.
DTaP is not for children or adults over 7 years of age. Children or adults over 7 years of age should talk to their health care provider about the Td or Tdap vaccines.
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