Diphtheria Tetanus Pertussis (DTaP) Vaccine

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DTaP vaccination

Vaccinations are an important part of a child’s healthcare plan. It is important to know that vaccines play a crucial role in developing antibodies that help in strengthening your child’s immune system and protecting them from dangerous viruses. The DTaP vaccine is one of the most commonly found and important vaccines that your child requires.

What is DTaP Vaccine & Why It is Recommended

The DTaP vaccine for babies is an injectable vaccine shot used to treat three different infant illnesses – Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis. Pertussis is more commonly known as whooping cough. While any person of any age can catch any of the three illnesses, children are especially susceptible to them as their immune system is not fully developed. Children are also vulnerable because diphtheria and pertussis are highly contagious diseases and can be caught from other infected children very easily. Tetanus is contracted through open cuts which are a commonplace occurrence when children play.

What are Benefits of DTaP Vaccine?

The DTaP vaccine is commonly used to create antibodies that combat all three diseases. These three diseases can be dangerous for young infants and adults alike.

  • Diphtheria

Diphtheria is a contagious bacterial infection that can be extremely dangerous for children under the age of 5 and adults over the age of 40, it has a 20% fatality rate for those around this age group.

This disease causes a heavy sore throat, fever and extreme weakness. The condition manifests through a thick grey coat at the back of the throat which can choke your baby and make it difficult for them to breathe. If the disease is not treated quickly the bacteria caused by it can infect multiple organs that can lead to multiple organ failure, heart failure and paralysis.

  • Tetanus

Tetanus is not a contagious disease and is caused by bacteria that live in the soil and dust. These bacteria enter through any cuts and punctures on the skin. Tetanus is also known as lockjaw and causes severe muscle spasms, seizures, and even paralysis.

Of all the conditions of tetanus reported, over 10% end up being fatal.

  • Pertussis

Pertussis or whooping cough is one of the most common vaccine-preventable diseases in children today. The bacterial disease is highly infectious and causes a cough so severe that even talking, eating and drinking becomes impossible. Pertussis can worsen and cause other complications like pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and even death.

Pertussis is especially dangerous for babies under the age of a year as their immune system is more susceptible to the pathogen as well as the complications that arise from the infection.

Proposed DTaP Vaccine Schedule

Doctors recommend that this shot be given to a child in 5 doses. This should be spread out over 6 years

Recommended ages

The recommended schedule for the shots are 3 shots during the first year at the age of 2 months, 4 months and 6 months, this is followed by an additional 2 shots at the age of 16 months and 4 years along with a TDaP shot between the age of 11-12. If you fail to get the DTaP vaccine as a child, it is then recommended that you get a vaccine known as TDaP as an adult with 2 TD booster shots. A TD vaccine booster protects against tetanus and diphtheria but does not work against pertussis.

Recommended Number of Doses

Here are the recommended DTaP vaccine doses for children from birth to adulthood-

  • 0-6 years: 5 shots of DTaP
  • 11 years – 12 years: one shot of TDap
  • As Adults: One shot of Tdap followed by booster doses every 10 years

adult taking TDap vaccine

What is the Difference Between DTaP and Tdap Vaccine?

While children under 7 are administered the DTaP vaccine, the Tdap vaccine is intended for adolescents. The Tdap vaccine is also called a booster dose, as it renews the immunity which may have lessened over the years.

Who Should Avoid DTaP Vaccination?

Doctors recommend that some children either wait or not get the vaccine due to medical complications like:

  • Allergies
  • Major illnesses that weaken the immune system
  • A seizure caused by an initial dose of the vaccine
  • Recurring fevers
  • High fevers that are higher than 104 degrees
  • The baby cries 3 straight hours or more after the initial vaccine

Risks and Side Effects of DTaP Vaccine

As with any vaccine, the DTaP vaccine has some side effects to watch out for, the DTaP vaccine fever is amongst one of the most common ones, some other side effects and risks are:

  • A loss in appetite
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Fussiness and crying for extended periods
  • Seizures

weak baby after DTaP vaccination

When giving your child the 4th and fifth shot of the DTaP vaccine, you might notice a general swelling of the area that can take up to a week to reduce entirely. This is a very common side effect and there isn’t any reason to be alarmed.

There might be some moderate reactions to the vaccine which aren’t very common, but of which you should still be aware.

  • Persistent crying of more than three hours
  • Seizures
  • High fever

In case of any of these side effects, it is best to consult with your child’s doctor immediately and ensure your child receives the medical attention she requires.

Is There Any Serious Reaction?

Some of the more extreme and rare side effects include:

  • Coma
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Severe allergic reactions leading to paralysis

You must be especially wary of any increase in temperature. A high fever of 105 can prove to be fatal to your baby. Seek immediate medical help if the fever goes above 100. Medically trained professionals will be able to help reduce the fever and ensure that the health of your baby stays intact.

What Precautions One Must Take While Giving a Child DTaP Injection

It is always more prudent to give your child the DTaP injection when she is relatively healthy. A sick child must not be given the vaccine as they will not be able to fight the side effects as well as a healthy child will be.

Every parent struggles to do what is best for their child, sometimes this means taking preventive measures to ensure the long-term well-being of your child. Vaccines are the best way to ensure that your child does not suffer from ailments that can be easily avoided. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider to understand which vaccines your child should get and when.

Also Read: Child Immunization & Vaccination Schedule

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