Diphtheria, Tetanus & Pertussis (DTP & DTaP) Vaccines

Diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw), and pertussis (whooping cough) are serious diseases. Diphtheria and pertussis spread when an infected person spreads germs to others, through the nose or throat. Tetanus results from a germ that enters the body through a cut or wound. Vaccination is the best way to reduce the risk of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. Since most children get these vaccines, there are now many fewer cases of these diseases.

Diphtheria causes thick mucus in the nose, throat, or airway. It can lead to:
· Breathing difficulties
· Heart failure
· Paralysis
· Death

Tetanus causes muscles to have serious, painful spasms. It can lead to:
· "Locking" of the jaw so a person cannot open his or her mouth or swallow
· Death

Pertussis causes coughing and choking. Infants with pertussis can have difficulty eating, drinking or breathing. It can lead to:
· Pneumonia
· Seizures (jerking and staring spells)
· Brain damage
· Death

DTP (Diphtheria Tetanus Pertussis)
DTP vaccine has been used for many years in the United States. It prevents diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.

DTaP (Diphtheria Tetanus acellular Pertussis)
DTaP vaccine prevents diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. It is less likely to cause the problems that may occur after DTP. DTP and DTaP are very
effective for preventing all three diseases.

DT (Diphtheria Tetanus)
DT does not prevent pertussis, and therefore, is not usually recommended. Vaccine recommendations
Most children should have a total of 5 DTP or DTaP vaccinations. They should receive these vaccinations at:

· 2 months of age.
· 4 months of age.
· 6 months of age.
· 12-18 months of age.
· 4-6 years of age.

DTP or DtaP may be given along with other vaccinations. Most doctors recommend that young children get DTP or DTaP vaccine. Some children should get DT. As with all vaccines, there are some cases where they may not be recommended. Tell your doctor or nurse if the child getting the vaccine has:

· Ever had an allergic reaction or other problem after getting DTP, DTaP, or DT
· An illness (moderate or serious)
· Ever had a seizure, or has a family member who has had seizures
· A brain problem that is getting worse


There is always a very small risk that serious problems, even death, could occur after taking a vaccine. However, the risks from the vaccine are much smaller than the risks from the diseases that could result if vaccination stopped.

You should contact your doctor as soon as possible, if any of the following problems occur after vaccination.


If these problems occur, they usually start within hours to a day or two after vaccination. They usually last up to 1-2 days:

· Soreness, redness, or swelling in the area where the shot was given
· Fever
· Crankiness
· Sleepiness
· Little appetite
· Vomiting

These problems are much less likely to occur with DTaP than with DTP. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen (not aspirin) may be used to prevent or reduce fever and soreness. This is especially important for children who have had seizures or have a parent, brother or sister who has had seizures.


. Continuous crying for at least 3 hours
· Fever of 105 degrees or higher.
· A seizure (jerking or staring spell)
· Paleness, lethargy, limpness, and lack of alertness


Severe problems are very rare. Following DTP they may include:
· Decreased consciousness
· Coma
· Long seizure
· Lasting brain damage (possibly)
· Serious allergic reaction


If a serious reaction occurs, call a doctor or get the person to a doctor right away.

Write down what happened and the date and time it happened. Ask your doctor, nurse, or health department to file a Vaccine Adverse Event Report.

Request a Refill

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