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Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis Vaccine

En Español (Spanish Version)

What does this vaccine help prevent ? | What Is the DTaP Vaccine? | Who Should Get Vaccinated and When? | What Are the Risks Associated With the Tetanus Vaccine? | Who Should Not Get Vaccinated? | What Other Ways Can Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?

What does this vaccine help prevent ?

This vaccine helps prevent:

  • Diphtheria —which causes a sore throat associated with a thick covering in the back of the throat
  • Tetanus — which causes painful muscle tightening all over the body; also known as lockjaw
  • Pertussis — which causes bad coughing spells that make it difficult for infants to eat, drink, and breathe; also known as whooping cough

What Is the DTaP Vaccine?

The DTaP vaccine is composed of diptheria and tetnus toxoids that can create an antitoxin, and small pieces of killed (acellular) pertussis bacteria.

Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?

DTaP

The DTaP vaccine is generally required before starting school. The regular immunization schedule is to give the vaccine at:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 15-18 months
  • 4-6 years

Catch-Up Schedule

If you or your child has not been fully vaccinated for diptheria, tetanus, and pertussis, talk to the doctor.

What Are the Risks Associated With the Tetanus Vaccine?

Most people tolerate the tetanus-containing vaccines without any trouble. The most common side effects are pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site, mild fever, tiredness, nausea, or vomiting. Rarely, a fever of more than 105ºF and seizures may occur.

Acetaminophen is sometimes given to reduce pain and fever that may occur after getting a vaccine. In infants, the medication may weaken the vaccine's effectiveness. However, in children at risk for seizures, a fever lowering medication may be important to take. Discuss the risks and benefits of taking acetaminophen with the doctor.

Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?

The vast majority of people should receive their tetanus-containing vaccinations on schedule. However, individuals in whom the risks of vaccination outweigh the benefits include those who:

  • Have had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a dose of DTaP
  • Has had a brain or nervous system disease within seven days after a dose of DTaP.

Talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine if you have:

  • Epilepsy or other nervous system problems
  • Severe swelling or severe pain after a previous dose of any component of the vaccination to be given
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Moderate or severe illness—wait until you recover to get the vaccine

What Other Ways Can Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?

The best way to prevent diphtheria is to get vaccinated.

Caring properly for wounds, including promptly cleaning them and seeing a doctor for medical care, can prevent a tetanus infection.

You can help prevent pertussis by keeping infants and other people at high risk away from infected people.

 

References:

  • DTaP vaccine: What you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/dtap.pdf . Published May 17, 2007. Accessed October 8, 2013.
  • 1/31/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-18 years—United States, 2008. MMWR. 2008;57;Q1-Q4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MMWR website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5701a8.htm . Updated January 10, 2008. Accessed January 28, 2008.
  • 10/30/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Prymula R, Siegrist C, Chlibek R, et al. Effect of prophylactic paracetamol administration at time of vaccination on febrile reactions and antibody responses in children: two open-label, randomised controlled trials. Lancet. 2009;374(9698):1339.
  • 1/24/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Updated recommendations for use of tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis (tdap) vaccine from the advisory committee on immunization practices, 2010. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011;60(1):13-15.
  • 11/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Updated recommendations for use of tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap) in pregnant women and persons who have or anticipate having close contact with an infant aged <12 months—Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2011. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011;60:1424-1426.

Last reviewed June 2013 by Brian Randall, MD

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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