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Diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus are serious diseases.
The diphtheria bacterium can enter the body through the nose and mouth. However, it can also enter through a break in the skin. It is transmitted from person-to-person by respiratory secretions or droplets in the air. After being exposed to the bacteria, it usually takes two to four days for symptoms to develop. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and even death.
Tetanus is not a contagious illness. It occurs in individuals who have had a skin or deep tissue wound or puncture. It is also seen in the umbilical stump of infants in underdeveloped countries. This occurs in places where immunization to tetanus is not widespread and women may not know proper care of the umbilical stump after the baby is born. After being exposed to tetanus, it may take between two days to two months to develop any symptoms. In infants, symptoms may take between five days to two weeks to develop.
Whooping cough is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis. It is spread through children from exposure to infected persons through droplets in the air (coughing and sneezing), and is highly contagious. Once the bacteria is in the child's airways, swelling of the airways and mucus production begins. It can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and death.
Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccines prevent these diseases. Most children who receive all of their shots will be protected during childhood. A combination vaccine is given to babies and children and provides protection against all three diseases. There are several types of the vaccine, including the following:
DTaP vaccines are given to babies and children at the following ages:
Every 10 years, a person should receive a tetanus booster. Some children should not get the DTaP vaccines, or should get them later. These include children who:
Your child's physician will advise you about vaccines in these situations.
As with any medication, vaccines carry a small risk of serious harm, such as a severe allergic reaction or even death. If there are reactions, they usually start within three days and do not last long. Most people have no serious reactions from these vaccines. Reactions are much less likely after DTaP than older forms of the vaccine. Common reactions to these vaccines may include the following:
Severe reactions such as very high fever, seizures, or allergic reactions to these vaccines are rare.
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