What is Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis?
DTaP is a vaccine given to children to prevent diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis bacterial infection. Tetanus enters the body through cuts and wounds (refer to page on tetanus vaccine). Diphtheria and pertussis can be spread from person to person.
Diphtheria bacteria infection will result in a thickened covering at the back of the throat resulting in difficulty, , heart failure , paralysis and even death. Early symptoms is just mild fever and sore throat.
Pertussis is also known as whooping cough. It causes continuous coughing spells which can cause eating , drinking and even breathing difficulties. It may result in severe pneumonia , seizures, brain damage and even death.
Tetanus is also known as lock jaw will result in tightening and stiffening of muscles of the body. It results in difficulty in opening of mouth, swallowing and breathing difficulties. It can also lead to death.
DTaP is part of the childhood immunisation programme in many countries. It is given as 5 doses at ages stated below:
DTaP vaccine can be given with other vaccines. The 5-in-1 vaccine include diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio and H influenza.
Tdap another vaccine is similar to DTaP. A single dose of Tdap is recommended for people 11 through 64 years of age. Td, another vaccine only protects against tetanus and diphtheria, but not pertussis. It is recommended every 10 years.
Contraindications to DTaP vaccine
1. Children with previous anaphylactic reaction to DTaP should not be vaccinated.
2. Children who suffered a brain or nervous disorder 7 days after DTaP vaccination should not get a second dose.
3. Children who are moderately or severely ill should not be vaccinated until they are better.
4. Patients who have seizure, collapsed or high fever post DTaP should talk to their doctor before second jab. A vaccine without pertussis DT may be considered instead.
Possible side effects from DTaP vaccine
Minor side effects which are commonly seen include low grade fever, redness, swelling and pain at site of vaccination. These reactions occur more often after 4th or 5th dose. Other possible minor side effects include poor appetite, tiredness, vomiting and fussiness. These reactions usually resolve with time without treatment.
Moderate side effects are uncommon. These include seizure ( 1 in 14000), non stop crying for 3 hours post vaccination (1 in 1000) and higher fever (1 in 16000).
Severe side effects is rare. These include serious anaphylactic reaction (less than 1 in one million) , long term seizures, coma and permanent brain damage. These are very rare and it is difficult to decipher it is due to the vaccine or not.