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Generic Name: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccines (DIF thee ree ah, TET ah nus, per TUH sis)
Brand Names: Acel-Imune, Certiva, Daptacel, Infanrix, Tripedia

What are diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccines?

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

Diphtheria causes a thick coating in the nose, throat, and airway. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and even death.

Tetanus (lockjaw) causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. It can lead to "locking" of the jaw so the victim cannot open his mouth or swallow. Tetanus leads to death in about 1 out of 10 cases.

Pertussis (whooping cough) causes coughing so severe that it is hard for infants to eat, drink, or breathe. These spells can last for weeks. It can lead to pneumonia, seizures (convulsions), brain damage, and death.

Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person. Tetanus enters the body through cuts or wounds. Vaccines for these diseases expose the individual to a small amount of the bacteria, helping the body develop immunity to the disease.

Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine (DTaP) can help prevent these diseases. Most children who are vaccinated with DTaP will be protected throughout childhood.

What is the most important information I should know about diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccines?

Children should get 5 doses of DTaP vaccine, one dose at each of the following ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years. The series should be completed before the child's seventh birthday.

Keep track of any and all side effects your child has after receiving this vaccine. When the child receives the next booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the first shot caused any side effects. Getting diphtheria, tetanus, or pertussis disease is much riskier than getting DTaP vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects. The risk of DTaP vaccine causing a serious side effect is extremely small.

Any child who had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a dose of DTaP should not receive another dose. Any child who has had encephalitis (brain swelling) or a brain or nervous system disease within 7 days after a dose of DTaP should not receive another dose.

Children with a cold or fever can still be vaccinated. Children who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting DTaP vaccine.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccines?

Any child who had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a dose of DTaP should not receive another dose. Any child who has had encephalitis (brain swelling) or a brain or nervous system disease within 7 days after a dose of DTaP should not receive another dose.

Before receiving DTaP vaccine, talk to your doctor if your child:

  • had a seizure or collapsed after a dose of DTaP;

  • cried non-stop for 3 hours or more after a dose of DTaP;

  • had a fever over 105 degrees after a dose of DTaP;

  • developed Guillian-Barre syndrome within 6 weeks after a prior tetanus shot;

  • has HIV or AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system;

  • is taking a medication that affects the immune system (steroids, anti-rejection medications after a transplant);

  • has a bleeding disorder or takes blood thinners (such as warfarin or Coumadin);

  • has cancer; or

  • is receiving cancer treatment with x-rays, radiation, or medication.

If the child has any of these conditions, he or she may not be able to receive DTaP.

Children with a cold or fever can still be vaccinated. Children who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting DTaP vaccine.

FDA pregnancy category C: This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby and should not be given to a woman who is pregnant.

How are diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccines administered?

This vaccine is given as an injection into a muscle. A doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider will give this injection.

Children should get 5 doses of DTaP vaccine, one dose at each of the following ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years. The series should be completed before the child's seventh birthday.

Your doctor may recommend reducing fever and pain by giving the child an aspirin-free pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tempra, others) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, others) when the shot is given and for the next 24 hours. Your healthcare provider can tell you the appropriate dosages of these medications. Controlling fever is especially important for children who have had seizures for any reason, or if a family member has had seizures.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if a dose of DTaP vaccine is missed.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of DTaP vaccine is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid before or after getting diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccines?

There are no restrictions on food, beverages, or activity before or after receiving DTaP vaccine unless your doctor has told you otherwise.

What are the possible side effects of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccines?

Keep track of any and all side effects your child has after receiving this vaccine. When the child receives the next booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the first shot caused any side effects. Getting diphtheria, tetanus, or pertussis disease is much riskier than getting DTaP vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine, can cause side effects. The risk of DTaP vaccine causing a serious side effect is extremely small.

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if the child has any of the following serious side effects:

  • loss of consciousness;

  • seizure (black-out or convulsions);

  • high fever, over 105 degrees; or

  • non-stop crying for 3 hours or more.

Other less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Talk to your doctor if your child has:

  • mild fever;

  • redness, pain, tenderness, or swelling where the shot was given;

  • fussiness for 1-3 days after the shot;

  • tiredness or poor appetite for 1-3 days after the shot; or

  • vomiting for 1-3 days after the shot.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

To help reduce fever and pain, your doctor may recommend giving the child an aspirin-free pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tempra, others) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil). This may be given at the time of the shot and over the next 24 hours. Your doctor will tell you the correct dose to use. Controlling fever is especially important if the child has a history of seizures.

What other drugs will affect diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccines?

Before receiving the DTaP vaccine, tell the doctor if the child is using any of the following medications:
  • an oral, nasal, inhaled, or injectable steroid medicine;

  • cancer chemotherapy or radiation;

  • azathioprine (Imuran);

  • basiliximab (Simulect);

  • cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral, Gengraf);

  • etanercept (Enbrel);

  • leflunomide (Arava);

  • muromonab-CD3 (Orthoclone);

  • mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept);

  • sirolimus (Rapamune); or

  • tacrolimus (Prograf).

There may be other drugs not listed that can affect the DTaP vaccine. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications the child uses. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your doctor or pharmacist may have additional information or suggest additional resources regarding DTaP vaccine.

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.01. Revision Date: 3/3/06 1:43:41 PM.

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