Frequently Asked Questions
Your child should not receive this vaccine if he or she has a neurologic disorder or disease affecting the brain (or if this was a reaction to a previous vaccine).
Diphtheria, pertussis acellular, polio, and tetanus are serious diseases caused by bacteria or virus.
Diphtheria causes a thick coating in the nose, throat, and airway. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, or death.
Pertussis (whooping cough) causes coughing so severe that it interferes with eating, drinking, or breathing. These spells can last for weeks and can lead to pneumonia, seizures (convulsions), brain damage, and death.
Polio affects the central nervous system and spinal cord. It can cause muscle weakness and paralysis. Polio is a life threatening condition because it can paralyze the muscles that help you breathe.
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 the mouth or swallow. Tetanus leads to death in about 1 out of 10 cases.
Diphtheria, pertussis, and polio are spread from person to person. Tetanus enters the body through a cut or wound.
This vaccine is used to help prevent these diseases in children who are ages 4 through 6 years (before the 7th birthday) who have received prior vaccination with a DTaP and IPV series.
This vaccine works by exposing your child to a small dose of the virus, bacteria or a protein from the bacteria, which causes the body to develop immunity to the disease. This vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.
Like any vaccine, the diphtheria, pertussis acellular, polio, and tetanus vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.
Your child should not receive this vaccine if he or she has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any vaccine containing diphtheria, pertussis, polio, or tetanus. Your child also should not receive this vaccine if he or she has a neurologic disorder or disease affecting the brain (or if this was a reaction to a previous vaccine).
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 very high fever (over 104 degrees), excessive crying for 3 hours or longer, fainting or going into shock (within 48 hours after receiving a vaccine containing pertussis);
- a seizure (within 3 days after receiving a vaccine containing pertussis);
- an allergy to neomycin, streptomycin or polymyxin B, and yeast; or
- Guillain-Barré syndrome (within 6 weeks after receiving a vaccine containing tetanus).
If your child has any of these other conditions, this vaccine may need to be postponed or not given at all:
- a history of seizures or premature birth; or
- a weak immune system caused by disease, bone marrow transplant, or by using certain medicines or receiving cancer treatments.
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.
This vaccine is given as an injection (shot) into a muscle. Your child will receive this injection in a doctor's office or other clinic setting.
Diphtheria, pertussis acellular, polio, and tetanus vaccine is given as the 5th dose in a series of DTaP immunizations and the 4th dose in a series of IPV immunizations. The shot is usually given to a child who is at least 4 years old or has not yet reached his or her 7th birthday. Your child's individual dose schedule may be different from these guidelines. Follow your doctor's instructions or the schedule recommended by the health department of the state you live in.
Your doctor may recommend treating fever and pain with an aspirin-free pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, and others) when the shot is given and for the next 24 hours. Follow the label directions or your doctor's instructions about how much of this medicine to give your child.
It is especially important to prevent fever from occurring in a child who has a seizure disorder such as epilepsy.
Contact your doctor if you will 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 in the DTaP and IPV series. Your child may not be fully protected if he or she does not receive the full series.
An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.
Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.
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 any and all side effects your child has after receiving this vaccine. When the child receives a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shot caused any side effects.
Becoming infected with diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, or polio is much more dangerous to your child's health than receiving the vaccine to protect against these diseases. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.
Get emergency medical help if your child has 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:
- irritability, crying for an hour or longer;
- very high fever; or
- extreme drowsiness, fainting.
Common side effects may include:
- drowsiness, not feeling well;
- headache, muscle pain;
- loss of appetite; or
- redness, pain, tenderness, or swelling where the shot was given.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your 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.
Before receiving this vaccine, tell the doctor about all other vaccines your child has received. Also tell the doctor if you have recently received drugs or treatments that can weaken the immune system. Your child may not be able to receive this vaccine, or may need to wait until the other treatments are finished.
Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about this vaccine. Additional information is available from your local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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