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The DTaP vaccine protects against three serious diseases that are caused by different bacteria:

  • Diphtheria: This infection is spread through person-to-person contact, usually through coughing or sneezing. Diphtheria is an infection that affects breathing and swallowing. When it occurs, a thick layer of mucus develops on the throat, nose, tonsils and voice box. Diphtheria can lead to death.
  • Tetanus: Also known as lockjaw, tetanus enters the body through cuts or wounds. It can cause muscles all over the body to stiffen. Tetanus is painful and sometimes deadly.
  • Pertussis: Also known as whooping cough, pertussis causes bad coughing spells that can last for weeks. These spells can make it difficult to eat, drink or breathe. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death.

The DTaP vaccine is given as a series of five shots.

Who should get a DTaP vaccine?

The DTaP vaccine is recommended for all children. It is recommended that children get five doses of the DTaP vaccine at these ages:

  • 2 months old
  • 4 months old
  • 6 months old
  • 15 to 18 months old
  • 4 to 6 years old

The DTaP vaccine is not given to children over the age of 6. Older children and adults can take a vaccine called Tdap, which also protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

If your child is sick, your healthcare provider may want to wait until he or she is better to give the DTaP vaccine.

What are the side effects of the DTaP vaccine?

There are side effects with any medication, including the DTaP vaccine. The most common side effects are fever, soreness of the site where the shot was given, fussiness, tiredness and persistent crying. These side effects are most likely to occur after the fourth and fifth doses of the DTaP vaccine.

There are other, more serious side effects, but they occur less frequently. These can include seizure, high fever and serious allergic reaction. The seizure or high fever could happen up to a week after receiving the shot. The allergic reaction would happen a few minutes to an hour after receiving the DTaP vaccine. If your child experiences any of these serious side effects or other unusual behavior after receiving the DTaP vaccine, go to the ER immediately.

In the unlikely event your child experiences a serious side effect, talk to your healthcare provider. It’s possible that your child should not receive another dose of the DTaP vaccine. The healthcare provider may recommend an alternative vaccine.

If your child needs a DTaP vaccine, CareNow® urgent care can help. Locate the nearest CareNow® urgent care clinic to set up a visit. You can minimize your wait time with our Web Check-In®.