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Benefits of the DTaP vaccine

Reviewed by Anthony White, MD
Benefits of the DTaP vaccine

The DTaP vaccine provides protection for your child against the diseases, diptheria, tetanus and pertussis, also known as whooping cough

About Diptheria 

Diptheria is a bacterial infection that makes it very hard to swallow or breath and can lead to death through suffocation when it is not treated. The most common cases of death are in patients under the age of 5 and over the age of 40. Before the vaccine was introduced back in the 1920’s there were approximately 175,000 reported cases a year in the United States. Since 204 there have not been any reported cases in the US. Elsewhere however in countries such as Brazil, Russia, Nigeria and Indonesia the disease is still very prominent.

Tetanus sometimes referred to as lockjaw, is an infection that causes painful muscle seizures, spasms and even paralysis. The bacteria are able to enter the body through broken skin but the infection is not contagious. 10 percent of all reported cases of tetanus lead to death and there are currently around 50 cases reported each year in the United States.

Pertussis, more commonly referred to as whooping cough is extremely contagious and one of the most common preventable diseases in children. It is a bacterial infection that causes coughing fits that make it difficult for children to eat, drink and breath. Complications that can occur if it goes untreated include seizures, pneumonia, brain damage and even death. After the introduction of the vaccine, the number of reported cases of whooping cough dropped from 147,000 in the 1940’s to 1,010 in 1976. However by 2005 the number had risen again as immunity was wearing off by the time babies reached their adolescents and less and less babies were being immunised. There has since been a push for babies to have a vaccine and then for an additional top up shot around the age of 11. One DTaP shot is not recommended for any adult who did not receive their second shot as an adolescent. As the infection is very contagious, receiving the shot as an adult can also help to protect your baby and any infants that you are in contact with.

The DTsP Vaccine

The DTaP vaccine should not be given to children under 6 weeks old or any child that has had a previous severe reaction to a DtaP vaccine. Bad reactions include difficulty breathing, hives, coma, fainting, high fever, seizure or non-stop crying for more than 3 hours, immediately after the vaccine. If your child experienced any of these symptoms, report it to your doctor immediately. Some variations in the vaccine are available such as the diphtheria and tetanus shot without the pertussis part if that is the problem. Discuss alternative options with your doctor.

Any child that has ever suffered a seizure is recommended to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen at the time of the vaccine and for the 24 hours afterwards. This will help to control any fever. Any children who are ill at the time of the shot are advised to wait until they have recovered so that there body is best able to cope with any potential side effects. The diphtheria and tetanus part of the vaccine do not cause any side effects but the pertussis part may do. Some of the most common ones include a mild fever, redness, swelling and soreness. Ask your doctor for advice on the best way to deal with these if they do occur.

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