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Diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis vaccine

Generic name: diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP) [ dif-THEER-ee-uh, TET-a-nus, ay-SEL-yoo-ler-per-TUS-iss ]
Brand names: Daptacel (DTaP), Infanrix (DTaP), Infanrix (DTaP) Preservative Free, Tripedia (DTaP), Boostrix (obsolete1)
Dosage form: intramuscular suspension (15 units-5 units-23 mcg/0.5 mL; 25 units-10 units-58 mcg/0.5 mL)

What is diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis vaccine?

Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis are serious diseases caused by bacteria.

Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, or death.

Tetanus (lockjaw) causes painful tightening of the muscles that can lead to "locking" of the jaw so the victim cannot open the mouth, swallow, or breathe. Tetanus can lead to death.

Pertussis (whooping cough) causes severe long-lasting episodes of cough that can interfere with eating, drinking, or breathing. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and death.

Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person. Tetanus enters the body through a cut or wound.

The diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis pediatric vaccine (also called DTaP) is used to help prevent these diseases in children. This vaccine helps your body develop immunity to the disease but will not treat an already active infection.

DTap vaccine is for use in children between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 years old (before the child has reached his or her 7th birthday).

Like any vaccine, the DTaP vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.

Warnings

Becoming infected with diphtheria, pertussis, or tetanus is much more dangerous to your child's health than receiving this vaccine.

Before taking this medicine

Your child may not be able to receive this vaccine if he or she has ever received a similar vaccine that caused any of the following:

  • a life-threatening allergic reaction to any vaccine that contains diphtheria, pertussis, or tetanus;

  • fainting, going into shock, loss of consciousness;

  • seizures;

  • nervous system problems or brain disorders (such as infantile spasms or uncontrolled epilepsy);

  • Guillain-Barré syndrome; or

  • severe pain or swelling after receiving a vaccine that contains tetanus or diphtheria.

Tell the vaccination provider if your child was born prematurely or has a seizure disorder.

Your child can still receive a vaccine if he or she has a minor cold. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until the child gets better before receiving this vaccine.

The pediatric version of this vaccine (Daptacel, Infanrix) should not be given to a child who is 7 years or older. Another vaccine is available for use in older children and adults.

How is this vaccine given?

This vaccine is given as an injection (shot) into a muscle.

This vaccine is given in a series of shots usually given when the child is 2, 4, and 6 months old, followed by two booster shots between 15 to 20 months and again at 4 to 6 years of age.

The timing of this vaccination is very important for it to be effective. Your child's individual booster schedule may be different from these guidelines. Follow your child doctor's instructions or the schedule recommended by your local health department.

Your child may receive other vaccines at the same time as this vaccine.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your child's vaccination provider if you miss a booster dose or if you get behind schedule. The next dose should be given as soon as possible. There is no need to start over.

Be sure your child receives all recommended doses of this vaccine, or the child may not be fully protected against disease.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid before or after receiving this vaccine?

Follow the vaccination provider's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

This vaccine side effects

Get emergency medical help if your child has signs of an allergic reaction: hives; dizziness, weakness; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Your child should not receive a booster vaccine if he or she had a life threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

Keep track of all side effects your child has. If the child receives a booster dose, tell the vaccination provider if the previous shot caused any side effects.

Becoming infected with diphtheria, pertussis, or tetanus is much more dangerous to your child's health than receiving this vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is low.

Call your child's doctor at once if the child has any of these side effects within 2 days after receiving a DTaP vaccine:

  • high fever (over 105 degrees F);

  • fussiness, irritability, crying for 3 hours or longer;

  • fainting, loss of consciousness going into shock;

  • a seizure (within 3 days); or

  • swelling of arm or leg where the shot was given.

Some side effects are more likely to occur after the 4th or 5th dose.

Follow the label directions or the vaccination provider's instructions.

It is especially important to prevent fever from occurring in a child who has a seizure disorder such as epilepsy.

Common side effects include:

  • pain, redness, or swelling where the injection was given;

  • fussiness or crying;

  • fever;

  • drowsiness, tiredness; or

  • loss of appetite.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your child's doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.

Diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis vaccine dosing information

Usual Pediatric Dose for Diphtheria Prophylaxis:

6 weeks to 6 years: 0.5 mL intramuscularly at 2, 4, and 6 months old, then again between 15 to 20 months old and at 4 to 6 years of age

Comments:
-The first dose may be given as early as 6 weeks of age.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Pertussis Prophylaxis:

6 weeks to 6 years: 0.5 mL intramuscularly at 2, 4, and 6 months old, then again between 15 to 20 months old and at 4 to 6 years of age

Comments:
-The first dose may be given as early as 6 weeks of age.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Tetanus Prophylaxis:

6 weeks to 6 years: 0.5 mL intramuscularly at 2, 4, and 6 months old, then again between 15 to 20 months old and at 4 to 6 years of age

Comments:
-The first dose may be given as early as 6 weeks of age.

What other drugs will affect diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis vaccine?

Before receiving this vaccine, tell the vaccination provider about all other vaccines your child has received.

Also, tell the vaccination provider if your child has recently received drugs or treatments that can weaken the immune system, including:

If your child is using any of these medications, he or she may not be able to receive the vaccine, or may need to wait until the other treatments are finished.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect this vaccine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your child's vaccination provider, pharmacist, or doctor can provide more information about this vaccine. Additional information is available from your local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.