Signs & symptoms of an adverse reaction to DTaP

DTaP vaccine protects from diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw) and pertussis (whooping cough). It is designed to be given in a series of 5 doses. DTaP was first licensed in 1991, and research shows that it is much safer than the previous formulation, DTP. Currently, there are 3 licensed formulations of the DTaP vaccine. Many different clinical trials were conducted on each vaccine to make sure of its safety. Results from clinical trials showed that these vaccines are very safe for infants and children, according to the CDC.

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. Also, according to the federal government, the risk of DTaP vaccine causing serious harm or death is extremely small.

According to the CDC, Mild problems or common problems are a fever (up to about 1 child in 4), redness or swelling where the shot was given (up to about 1 child in 4) and 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 where the shot was given for 1 to 7 days (up to about 1 child in 30).

Other mild problems may include: fussiness (up to about 1 child in 3), tiredness or poor appetite (up to about 1 child in 10) and or vomiting (up to about 1 child in 50). These problems generally occur 1 to 3 days after the shot.

Moderate problems or uncommon problems are seizures (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), and a high fever – 105 degrees Fahrenheit or higher (about 1 child out of 16,000).

The CDC believes that severe problems are very rare like including a serious allergic reaction. They report 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 and permanent brain damage.

However, the CDC claims that these are so rare it is hard to tell if they are actually caused by the vaccine.

On their website they state, “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.

As stated throughout this article, this is what the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention believes to be “recognized” signs and symptoms of an adverse reaction. Recipients of this vaccine and parents choosing to give it to their children should be aware that although these are the only “recognized” reactions, there are several studies that have proven there can also be potential nerve damage and autoimmune trouble.


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