This is a vaccine that decreases your child's risk of getting diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis.
Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis are three bacterial illnesses that have potentially serious complications. Due to the widespread use of the DTaP vaccine (and other variations of this vaccine) these illnesses are not as common as they used to be. Diphtheria is characterized by:
Severe complications are due to the toxins made by the bacteria. They include inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis), paralysis, kidney damage and death.
Tetanus (lockjaw) is characterized by painful muscle spasms that can spread throughout the body. (Muscle spasms in the jaw produce the classic "lockjaw.") The spasms can lead to muscle tears or broken bones. Other symptoms include:
Severe complications include airway obstruction, respiratory arrest, heart failure, pneumonia, brain damage due to lack of oxygen during spasms and death.
Pertussis (whooping cough) is characterized by:
Complications may include pneumonia, dehydration, ear infections, seizures and death. Severe symptoms and complications are more common in infants younger than age 1.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children get their DTaP vaccine at two months, four months, six months, and between fifteen and eighteen months. The fifth dose in the series should be given before they enter school, typically between four to six years of age. You may be required to show proof of DTaP vaccination before your child can attend school.
You should contact your healthcare provider if your child is not up to date on the DTaP vaccine. Here is a list of questions you can ask about the vaccine.
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