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Home > > Health & WellnessDiphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTP) Immunizations

Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTP) Immunizations

Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis are serious diseases caused by bacteria. Diphtheria causes a thick covering in the back of the throat. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure and even death. Tetanus causes painful tightening of the muscles. It can lead to "lockjaw," so the victim can't open their mouth or swallow. Pertussis causes coughing spells so bad that it is hard for infants to eat, drink or breathe. Receiving a DTaP vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent these diseases.

Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?

Children should get five doses of DTaP vaccine, one dose at each of the following ages:

  • two months
  • four months
  • six months
  • 15 to 18 months
  • four to six years

Who Shouldn't Receive the Vaccination?

Some children shouldn't receive the DTaP vaccine or should wait. Children with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. But children who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they feel better before getting the vaccine. Any child who had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a dose of DTaP should not get another dose.

DTaP shouldn't be given to anyone seven years or older. Older children and adolescents still need protection from tetanus and diphtheria, however. A booster shot, called Td, is recommended at 11 to 12 years of age, and then every ten years.

What are the Risks from DTaP Vaccine?

Getting diphtheria, tetanus, or pertussis disease is much riskier than getting the DTaP vaccine. However, like any medicine, a vaccine is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of DTaP vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.

Mild Problems: These problems occur more often after the fourth and fifth doses of the vaccine

  • Fever
  • Redness, swelling or soreness where the shot was given
  • Fussiness or tiredness

Moderate Problems: Uncommon

  • Seizure (jerking or staring)
  • Non-stop crying, for three hours or more
  • High fever, over 105 degrees Fahrenheit

Call your doctor if your child has any of these problems.

Severe Problems: These problems are so rare that it's hard to tell if it's caused by the vaccine.

  • Long-term seizure, coma
  • Permanent brain damage

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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