DTaP/Tdap Vaccines
DTaP is a vaccine administered to children younger than seven years old to help them develop immunity to three deadly diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough). Tdap is a booster immunization given to older children and adults to offer continued protection from those diseases.

Diphtheria is a respiratory disease that can cause breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis, and even death. It is spread by coughing and sneezing and is highly contagious. It was once a major cause of illness and death among children. Vaccination began in the 1920s in the United States, and rates have dropped significantly since then.

Tetanus is caused by a bacterium often found in soil and dirt mixed with animal waste. The contaminated soil can enter the body through cuts and wounds. Once the bacterium enters the body, it releases a toxin that attacks the nervous system, causing muscle spasms. If left untreated, it can cause death. The United States first introduced tetanus vaccines into the routine childhood immunization schedule in the 1940s.

Pertussis (whooping cough) causes coughing and is also highly contagious. It can lead to seizures, brain damage, pneumonia, and death. The resulting spasms are so severe that it makes it difficult for infants to eat, drink, or even breathe. Pertussis vaccines became widely available in the US in the 1940s. Recent studies suggest that whooping cough vaccines continue to be effective despite recent genetic changes in the bacteria that cause pertussis.

These diseases were rampant before the development of vaccines. Therefore, vaccines play a critical role in protecting the community by preventing the spread of disease from one person to another, offering some protection to the unvaccinated. Without vaccination, the infection rate of these three diseases would rapidly rise, and thousands would get sick and likely die.

Available Vaccines

Here are the different types of vaccines that can safely and effectively prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis:

  • DTaP
  • DT
  • Tdap
  • Td

DTaP vs. Tdap Vaccines

The CDC recommends diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination for everyone. Be sure to talk to a healthcare professional if you have questions about these vaccines.

DTaP helps children under the age of 7 develop immunity to diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. Tdap, on the other hand, has a lower dose of diphtheria and whooping cough vaccines and is recommended as a booster starting at age 11 and for adults. It’s designed to boost the immunity that wanes over time.

Medical experts recommend that everyone gets a booster shot for diphtheria and tetanus every ten years after their first immunization, and that’s where Td comes in. But since the body’s immunity to whooping cough also wears off during childhood, a weaker form of the pertussis vaccine is added to the booster to make the vaccine Tdap.

A single dose of the Tdap vaccine can substitute one dose of the Td vaccine for people aged 11 and above. The Tdap vaccine is also recommended for pregnant women. Children aged seven years or older with an unknown vaccination status, those who aren’t fully vaccinated against pertussis, or those who have never been vaccinated before should get a single dose of the Tdap vaccine.

Teens aged between 13 and 18 who haven’t yet gotten the Tdap vaccine need to get a dose, and after that, a booster of Td (tetanus and diphtheria) every ten years.

Side Effects/Reactions

DTaP, Tdap, DT, and Td vaccines are effective at preventing tetanus and diphtheria. DTaP and Tdap vaccines are safe and effective at preventing diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus. However, vaccines, like any medication, can have adverse effects. Most of the side effects are mild and will usually go away without any medication.

Severe allergic reactions, on the other hand, are rare but can be fatal. Symptoms of severe allergic reactions may include difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat and face, hives, weakness, and a rapid heartbeat. If you or someone else experiences severe reactions after getting a vaccine, seek medical attention right away and get to the nearest hospital.

DTaP Side Effects

The main difference between DTaP vaccines and the rest that protect against these three diseases is that the DTaP vaccine is acellular rather than whole-cell. It uses fewer pertussis antigens, so it has fewer side effects, such as:

  • Swelling or soreness where the healthcare professional administered the shot
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling tired
  • Irritability

Most side effects typically last from one to three days and are mild to moderate.

Who Should Not Get DTaP Vaccine?

DTaP shouldn’t be administered to children seven years of age or older. Parents must talk to their child’s doctor about administering the DTaP vaccine for children who:

  • Had severe swelling or pain after a previous dose of the DTaP or DT vaccine
  • Had a coma or prolonged, repeated seizures within a week or so after a dose of DTaP
  • Had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of DTaP
  • Developed GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome) within six weeks of a DTaP dose

Children who are severely or moderately ill should usually wait until they recover before getting the DTaP vaccine. In certain scenarios, the physician may opt to postpone the child’s DTaP vaccine to a future date.

Common Side Effects of DT Vaccine

The DT vaccine offers a way for children who should not get the pertussis vaccine to be vaccinated against tetanus and diphtheria. Doctors generally prefer to give the DTaP vaccine because it immunizes against more diseases with a single shot. Some common side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Crying
  • Pain where the healthcare professional gave the shot
  • Fever
  • Nausea, loss of appetite

Who Should Not Get the DT Vaccine?

DT shouldn’t be administered to children seven years of age or older. Parents should consult their children’s doctor about administering the DT vaccine if their child:

  • Had severe swelling or pain after receiving the first dose of DT or DTaP vaccine
  • Has a history of seizures
  • Received radiation or chemotherapy
  • Developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of a DT dose

In certain instances, the doctor may decide to postpone the child’s DT vaccination to a future date.

Tdap Side Effects

First licensed for use in 2005, the Tdap vaccine adds protection from pertussis to the standard diphtheria and tetanus vaccine. The rule is that you only need a single injection of Tdap. However, pregnant women are advised to take a dose of the vaccine for each pregnancy. Patients don’t need subsequent Tdap vaccinations. Common side effects of the Tdap vaccine include:

  • Stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Mild fever
  • Swelling, pain, or redness where the doctor gave the shot

Who Should Not Get the Tdap Vaccine?

Any individual who has ever had a severe allergic reaction after receiving a diphtheria, pertussis, or tetanus-containing vaccine, or is allergic to a part of the vaccine, should be exempted from getting the Tdap vaccine.

Any individual who has had long, repeated seizures within a week after a dose of DTaP or been in a coma should not get Tdap unless medical practitioners established another cause of the problem. They can still get Td.

It’s important to discuss the Tdap vaccine with your physician if you:

  • Aren’t feeling well on the day you’re supposed to receive your shot
  • Had seizures or another nervous system problem
  • Developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of a Tdap dose
  • Had severe swelling or pain after any vaccine containing tetanus, diphtheria, or pertussis

Common Side Effects of Td Vaccine

Some of the common side effects of the Td vaccine include:

  • Tiredness
  • Pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was administered
  • Headache
  • Fever

Who Should Not Get the Td Vaccine?

Any individual who has had a previous dose of any vaccine containing diphtheria or tetanus and subsequently has a severe allergic reaction should not get a Td vaccine.

Talk to your physician about getting the Td vaccine if you:

  • Are feeling unwell on the day of your scheduled shot
  • Developed GBS (Guillain-Barre syndrome) within six weeks of a Td dose
  • Had severe swelling or pain after any vaccine containing diphtheria or tetanus

The DTP Vaccine

The DTP vaccine is an older version of DTaP. It is no longer used in the United States as it was replaced by DTaP, which is safer, more efficient, and produces fewer side effects. In some cases, children given the older DTP vaccine experienced convulsions, high fever, and fainting. In 1997, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommended that the DTaP vaccine replace the DTP vaccine.

Problems That Could Happen After Getting Any Injected Vaccine

lady feeling dizzy because of side effects of dtap vaccine

People sometimes lose consciousness after a medical procedure, including vaccination. Lying down or sitting for about 15 minutes after receiving a vaccine can help prevent fainting and injuries caused by falling. Tell your doctor if you or your child:

  • Has vision changes
  • Feels dizzy
  • Has ringing in the ears

Any medication can cause severe allergic reactions. Severe reactions are estimated at one in a million doses. For example, some people get severe shoulder pain and have difficulty moving their arm where the doctor gave the shot. These adverse reactions typically happen within a few minutes or several hours after the vaccination.

Tetanus Vaccine Injury Claims

The US government established the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) to compensate people injured by adverse reactions to vaccines. An excise tax on each vaccine funds the program. Each claim made to the VICP is eligible to receive a maximum of $250,000 for pain and suffering, lost past and future wages, and unreimbursed, out of pocket expenses (co-pays, deductibles, and unpaid medical bills).

Victims of vaccine-related injuries must meet specific criteria before filing a vaccine injury claim. For instance, you need to file the claim within three years of suffering injuries or two years of a DTaP, Tdap, Td, and DT vaccine death. Claims filed beyond these periods will be denied by the VICP regardless of merit.

Claims filed under the VICP are defended by experienced lawyers who specialize in defending vaccine-injury claims. To avoid many of the pitfalls that the VICP presents, you want to retain the services of a lawyer who regularly handles these types of cases.

Some illnesses, disabilities, or injuries covered by VICP due to DTaP, Tdap, Td, and DT vaccines include:

  • Anaphylaxis
  • Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA)
  • Brachial neuritis
  • Vasovagal syncope
  • Encephalopathy or encephalitis

What Is SIRVA?

SIRVA occurs when a vaccine is injected too deep or too high in the shoulder. Injecting a vaccine this way can result in intense and prolonged pain and other shoulder injuries, such as tendonitis or a rotator cuff tear.

SIRVA can occur when a practitioner uses a needle that’s too long for the patient or doesn’t inject it in the correct spot. Training in proper injection techniques can help minimize cases of SIRVA. The most common symptom of SIRVA is shoulder pain, and it can begin immediately or up to eight hours after the injection. The pain results from injury and inflammation in the shoulder joint and can be long-lasting and intense. Your shoulder may also be difficult to move.

Can an Adult or Child Who Had Whooping Cough Get It Again?

Reinfection with pertussis is rare but does occur. Reinfection may present as a persistent cough rather than typical pertussis.

My infant child got the Tdap instead of DTaP. Now, what happens?

If a healthcare professional inadvertently administered Tdap to a child under seven years of age, he/she should count it as either the first, second, or third DTaP dose. The dose should be repeated with DTaP, and vaccination should continue on schedule.

Is It Acceptable to Give Breastfeeding Mothers the Tdap Vaccine?

Yes. Women who have never received Tdap, and who didn’t receive it during pregnancy, should receive it immediately after giving birth or as soon as possible after. Breastfeeding is not a contraindication for any vaccine except smallpox and doesn’t decrease the immune responses to routine childhood vaccines.

Can a Booster Dose of Tdap Be Given to People Age 65 Years and Older?

Yes. Experts recommend a dose of Tdap be given to all adults, including those aged 65 years or older. There’s no upper age limit for Tdap vaccination. Moreover, healthcare practitioners may administer Tdap in all situations where TD only was previously recommended. This is especially critical for adults, such as childcare providers or grandparents, who have or anticipate having close contact with an infant younger than 12 months of age.

Benefits of Hiring a Vaccine Injury Lawyer

Some of the main benefits of hiring a vaccine injury lawyer to file your VICP claim include:

  • No-cost legal representation
  • Taking your claim to trial if settling isn’t in your best interests
  • Negotiating a settlement
  • Calculating your financial recovery
  • Satisfying the filing requirements

Do I Need an Attorney to File a Vaccine Injury Claim?

You don’t need a lawyer to file a claim with the VICP, but since it is a legal process, you’re better off working with an attorney. If you meet certain minimal requirements, the VICP will pay your lawyer’s fees as well as other legal expenses related to your claim, whether or not they pay your claim.

At Sadaka Associates, we are experienced at vaccine-related injury law. Call us today to speak to an experienced vaccine injury attorney.

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