What is DTP?

‘D’ stands for Diphtheria, ‘T’ stands for Tetanus and ‘P’ stands for Pertussis.

These three are serious diseases caused by bacteria. Diphtheria and Pertussis are spread from one person to another while Tetanus enters the body through cuts and wounds, which may not appear dangerous and are often unnoticed or neglected.

What are the symptoms and harmful effects of DTP?

Diphtheria: It causes a thick covering in the back of the throat. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure and even death in severe cases.

Tetanus: It causes painful tightening of the muscles usually all over the body. Tetanus can lead to locking of the jaw as a result the victim cannot open his mouth or swallow. Deaths because of Tetanus are around 10%.

Pertussis (whooping cough or black cough): It causes severe coughing spells that it is hard for infants to eat, drink or even breathe. These spells can last for weeks. Pertussis can lead to Pneumonia, convulsions, Brain Damage and Death.

Who is susceptible of DTP?

All un-protected children are at danger of these three serious diseases. DTP can be prevented by vaccinating children.

Who should get DTP vaccine and when?

All children should get five doses of DTP vaccine as per the schedule mentioned below:
6 weeks, 10 weeks, 14 weeks,
1st booster – 16-18 months,
2nd booster – 5 years

Can DTP vaccine be taken during illness?
  • Children with minor illness such as cold may be vaccinated but children who are moderately or severely ill should wait until they recover
  • A child who had a life threatening allergic reaction after a dose of DTP vaccination should not get another dose.
  • A child who had encephalopathy (brain illness) or nervous system disease within 7 days after a dose of DTP should not get another dose.
  • A child who had a temperature of 105oF within 48 hours after a dose of DTP should probably not get another dose of Pertussis-containing vaccine.
  • A child who collapses or goes into a “shock-like” state within 48 hours after a dose of DTP should probably not get another dose of Pertussis-containing vaccine.
  • A child who cries continuously for 3 or more hours within 48 hours after a dose of DTP should probably not get another dose of Pertussis-containing vaccine.
  • A child who has convulsions within 3 days after a dose of DTP should probably not get another dose of Pertussis-containing vaccine.
What is the importance of booster doses?

It has been observed that even after 3 doses of DTP vaccine. The protection level is only 80% hence it is prudent to administer 2 boosters for better protection against DTP.

Can DTP vaccine be given to older children and adults?

DTP should not be given to anyone of age 7 years and above because Pertussis vaccine is only licensed for children under 7 years but if older children, adolescents and adults still need a protection from Tetanus and Diphtheria, a booster dose of DT is recommended at 11-12 years of age and then every 10 years.

What are the risks from DTP vaccine?

A vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of DTP vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.

Mild Problems (Common)

  • Fever
  • Redness or swelling
  • Soreness or tenderness at the site of injection.
  • Other mild problems include:
  • Irritability Fussiness (up to about 1 child in 3)
  • Tiredness or poor appetite (up to about 1 child in 10)
  • Nausea (up to about 1 child in 50)
  • These problems generally occur 1-3 days after the injection.

Moderate Problems (Uncommon)

  • Seizure (about 1 child out of 14,000)
  • Non-stop crying, for 3 hours or more (up to about 1 child out of 1,000)
  • High fever, over 105oF (about 1 child out of 16,000).
  • Severe Problems (Very Rare)
  • Serious allergic reaction (less than 1 out of million doses)

DT does not contain pertussis, and is used as a substitute for DTaP for children who cannot tolerate pertussis vaccine.

What is Td and to whom it is given?

Td is a tetanus-diphtheria vaccine given to adolescents and adults as a booster shot every 10 years, or after an exposure to tetanus under some circumstances. Tdap is similar to Td but also containing protection against pertussis. Adolescents 11-18 years of age (preferably at age 11-12 years) and adults 19 through 64 years of age should receive a single dose of Tdap. For adults 65 and older who have close contact with an infant and have not previously received Tdap, one dose should be received. Tdap should also be given to 7-10 year olds who are not fully immunized against pertussis. Tdap can be given no matter when Td was last received.

(Upper-case letters in these abbreviations denote full-strength doses of diphtheria (D) and tetanus (T) toxoids and pertussis (P) vaccine. Lower-case “d” and “p” denote reduced doses of diphtheria and pertussis used in the adolescent/adult-formulations. The “a” in DTaP and Tdap stands for “acellular,” meaning that the pertussis component contains only a part of the pertussis organism.)

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