Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP) Vaccine


Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP) vaccine can help protect your child from diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.

DIPHTHERIA (D) can cause breathing problems, paralysis, and heart failure. Before vaccines, diphtheria killed tens of thousands of children every year in the United States.

TETANUS (T) causes painful tightening of the muscles. It can cause ‘locking’ of the jaw so you cannot open your mouth or swallow. About 1 person out of 5 who get tetanus dies.

PERTUSSIS (aP), also known as Whooping Cough, causes coughing spells so bad that it is hard for infants and children to eat, drink, or breathe. It can cause pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, or death.

Most children who are vaccinated with DTaP will be protected throughout childhood. Many more children would get these diseases if we stopped vaccinating.

Side Effects Of Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP) Vaccine

Redness, soreness, swelling, and tenderness where the shot is given are common after DTaP.

Fever, fussiness, tiredness, poor appetite, and vomiting sometimes happen 1 to 3 days after DTaP vaccination.

More serious reactions, such as seizures, nonstop crying for 3 hours or more, or high fever (over 105°F) after DTaP vaccination happen much less often. Rarely, the vaccine is followed by swelling of the entire arm or leg, especially in older children when they receive their fourth or fifth dose.

Long-term seizures, coma, lowered consciousness, or permanent brain damage happen extremely rarely after DTaP vaccination.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

Warnings & Precautions

  • DTaP is only for children younger than 7 years old. DTaP vaccine is not appropriate for everyone –a small number of children should receive a different vaccine that contains only diphtheria and tetanus instead of DTaP.
  • Tell your health care provider if your child:
  • Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of DTaP, or has any severe, life-threatening allergies.
  • Has had a coma or long repeated seizures within 7 days after a dose of DTaP.
  • Has seizures or another nervous system problem.
  • Has had a condition called Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).
  • Has had severe pain or swelling after a previous dose of DTaP or DT vaccine.
  • In some cases, your healthcare provider may decide to postpone your child’s DTaP vaccination to a future visit.
  • Children with minor illnesses, such as a cold, maybe vaccinated. Children who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting DTaP vaccine.

Your health care provider can give you more information.

Dosage Of Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP) Vaccine

Children should usually get 5 doses of DTaP vaccine, one dose at each of the following ages:

      • 2 months
      • 4 months
      • 6 months
      • 15–18 months
      • 4–6 years

DTaP may be given at the same time as other vaccines. Also, sometimes a child can receive DTaP together with one or more other vaccines in a single shot.


Ask your healthcare provider.

Call your local or state health department.


All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.