Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Acellular Pertussis Vaccine (Intramuscular)

Usually given to children, this vaccine is a 3-in-1 injection that protects against three common illnesses.


Known as DTaP, this tri-vaccination is given to children to avoid diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis. It is given via injection under the muscle, and has been successful in preventing a number of dangerous diseases. It is often given to children over the course of several doses, and booster shots can be used to further protect them against illness.

Because of this vaccine, children can avoid diseases that previously caused permanent damage, severe illness, or even death. The diseases prevented by this vaccine include:

  • Diphtheria. An airborne disease caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheriae. The toxins released by the bacteria can cause pneumonia, nerve damage, breathing problems, and even death.
  • Tetanus, or lockjaw. A disease caused by Clostridium tetani, it is spread through the dirt and saliva, and results in severe muscle spasms. It can cause permanent damage to the spine and even death.
  • Pertussis, or whooping cough. Another airborne disease caused by Bordetella pertussis, this disease can cause coughing fits so violent that they break ribs, and children with whooping cough can suffer bronchitis, brain damage, seizures, and even death.

All three of these diseases can kill children once they are infected. By proactively vaccinating your child, you can protect them from these diseases and their effects. This vaccine comes with few risks for the average child, and side effects are minimal. It is recommended that every child receive a full round of vaccinations, and by vaccinating your child, you are protecting them and contributing to herd immunity.

If your child suffers from an immunodeficiency or any other condition that may interfere with their DTaP vaccination, talk with your family doctor to discuss your options.

Type Of Medication

  • Vaccine

Conditions Treated

  • Prevention of diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw), and pertussis (whooping cough).

Side Effects

This vaccination may come with side effects, especially if your child has never received a vaccination before. If you're concerned about what your child might experience, talk to your doctor about the more common side effects. Ask them about what warning signs to look for, and keep a close eye on your child after the vaccination. While many children receive vaccinations without issue, you should always be thorough.

Because this vaccine must be given as an injection, your child may become distressed and fussy before, during, and after the treatment. Distract them during the injection and reward them afterward, and contact your doctor if they become inconsolable, won't stop crying, or lose consciousness.

Common side effects of this vaccine include:

  • Fussiness
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Tenderness at the injection site

If these side effects persist, contact your doctor to schedule an earlier check-up. While these side effects are common, your doctor might want to double-check your child for adverse reactions.

Some children may react badly to this vaccine. Severe side effects may be a sign that they need further attention, so keep an eye on your child for troubling behaviors or symptoms. If something seems out of the ordinary, mark it down and remember it, and be sure to call your doctor. If you believe their life is in danger, seek medical attention immediately. Severe side effects include:

  • Crying for three or more hours
  • Fever (Over 100°F)
  • Severe swelling and inflammation of the injection site
  • Severe pain at the injection site
  • Collapse, loss of consciousness, or shock
  • Seizures or convulsions

While these side effects may seem troubling, they only occur in isolated cases. Talk to your doctor if you're concerned for your child's safety, and discuss your options with them first. While the internet can help prepare you, it should not be your first and last source of information. Be sure to attend all of your child's scheduled doctor's appointments, and don't hesitate to ask questions.


Dosage will be determined by your doctor, and this vaccine should only be given by a trained medical professional. The doctor may give it themselves, or there may be a nurse on staff to give vaccines. Either way, you do not need to portion out a dose every time your child gets this vaccine or its boosters; the doses are usually pre-determined and handled by the medical staff.

Your child might need other vaccines along with this one. The nurse will likely administer them in different areas to avoid soreness. Keep track of what vaccines your child is given, and make sure to mark down when they received them. Your doctor will give you paperwork to prove that your child has been vaccinated, so make sure you keep track of the documents. If you have questions about how to read them or what certain words/phrases mean, make sure to ask your doctor before leaving.

This vaccination comes in several steps. Your child will not receive the entire vaccine at once, as this would overwhelm their system. Instead, there is a designated vaccination schedule for every child. Make sure to attend all their check-ups and appointments, and do not miss a vaccination. Plan ahead with your doctor, and try to pick a time that will work for you and your child.

The recommended vaccination schedule is as follows:

First dose: two months of age

Second dose: four months of age

Third dose: six months of age

Fourth dose: 15 to 18 months of age

Fifth dose: four to six years of age

Your child may require boosters as they get older to protect them against these diseases, as immunization does not last forever. Your doctor will remind you when its time for a booster shot, but this 5-dose schedule is the most important. Your child's vaccination coverage at this point in their life can determine the rest of their life. Unvaccinated children may be vulnerable to these diseases, all of which can become fatal.

The overall risk of vaccines is low, but the risk of catching these illnesses is high. Make sure to attend all of the scheduled appointments, and talk to your doctor about the vaccine if you feel unsure. Even if you yourself are unvaccinated, it may not be the best decision to neglect to vaccinate your child.


This vaccine has few common interactions, but you should always keep a list of your child's medications or treatments for your doctor to look over. Prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs should be listed, as well as any herbal or vitamin remedies. Without the proper information, your doctor may have a hard time determining what is safe for your child.

This drug may interact with other vaccines. Space out your child's vaccination schedule according to your doctor's orders to avoid any issues.

This vaccine should not be given to children who are already ill. Wait until your child is healthy before rescheduling their vaccination appointment. Mild fevers and colds are not included in this. Your doctor may advise that your child receive their vaccination anyway. They are mild illnesses, so they are less likely to interact and cause upset.

Warn your doctor if your child has an infection to rubber or latex. There may be rubber/latex powder in the syringes or needles, and an allergic reaction can become dangerous. Let your doctor know beforehand so they can switch to hypoallergenic materials. If an allergic reaction occurs, contact your child's doctor immediately. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Rash
  • Severe swelling or pain at the injection site
  • Trouble breathing

Do not give your child this vaccine if they are on any sort of radiation treatment, cancer treatment, or steroids. These medications may weaken their immune system and make them more susceptible to infection. Wait until they are finished with these treatments to vaccinate them. Be sure to keep track of all your children's treatments and medications to avoid accidents, and be vigilant about possible interactions.

Your child's doctor may prescribe additional non-interactive medications to treat side effects. These are safe for your child to take and will not cause problems with their treatment. They may be used to treat soreness and mild fever after the vaccination.

This list of interactions is not exhaustive. Talk to your doctor about any and all interactions before receiving this vaccine. Make sure that you leave nothing out when informing your doctor of your child's prescriptions and treatments.


Like any treatment, this vaccine comes with risks and warnings. While the risks of this vaccine are far lower than those of the diseases it prevents, you should only administer this vaccine if you've assessed the pros and cons. If your child is unable to receive vaccines, you may need to take additional steps to protect them against diphtheria, lockjaw, and whooping cough.

Vaccines may not be the ideal choice for your child. If your child suffers from any form of immuno-deficiency, your doctor may recommend that they hold off on their vaccinations. Administering the vaccine may put them at unnecessary risk for infection or adverse reactions. If your child has reacted negatively to other vaccines, your doctor may also recommend not vaccinating them.

Do not give your child vaccines if they have brain issues or blood diseases such as hemophilia. Children at high risk of seizures should seek treatment before receiving any vaccinations.

This vaccine is not a cure-all solution. If your child is already suffering from a case of diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis, they will require a different treatment. A vaccine is only good at preventing these diseases. If you suspect that your child is suffering from one of these illnesses, bring them to a doctor for examination before vaccinating them.

After the vaccination, keep a close eye on your child for any and all troubling side effects. If they begin to act strangely or become inconsolable, contact your doctor for further attention. If they begin to seize or lose consciousness, contact medical help immediately. Severe swelling and high fevers have also been recorded, and you should contact your doctor if any of the listed side effects occur.

If your child becomes weak-limbed after their vaccination, schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately. This may be a symptom of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition that requires medical attention.

Stay vigilant while vaccinating your children, but do not feel paranoid or fearful when it comes to vaccines. Many children are able to receive them without issue, and they are considered very low risk. If you have concerns about how your child may react, discuss your worries with your doctor. They are there to help and have your child's best interests in mind.


You do not need to store this vaccine yourself. It will be held at a hospital or pediatrics facility until the date of your child's vaccination, so it is not necessary that you store it or administer it. This vaccine will be given with a clean, sterilized needle, and a new vaccine container is used every time to avoid contamination. If you have further questions about how this vaccine is stored and handled, ask your doctor or the nurse administering it.


Talk to your doctor before and after receiving this vaccine. If you notice anything strange about your child's behavior after their vaccination, schedule an appointment right away. While vaccines are safe for most children, some factors may cause your child to react badly to the vaccine. Do not vaccinate your child if they are currently undergoing radiation treatment, taking steroids, or experience any other form of immuno-deficiency.

Common side effects of this vaccine include fussiness and loss of appetite. Contact your doctor if these side effects concern you, and make sure to take your child to every check-up after their vaccination. Proper supervision is recommended so your doctor can make sure your child is reacting properly to the vaccine.

If fever, excessive crying, or seizures occur, take your child back to the doctor immediately. If necessary, contact emergency medical services. This may be a sign that your child is reacting negatively to the vaccination.

Vaccinations have been around since the late 1700s, and they are widely regarded as one of the largest leaps in modern medicine. Since then, they have become one of the most sophisticated methods of prevention. Thanks to vaccines, many diseases that once killed children and adults have been successfully eradicated.

While the decisions to vaccinate children is a personal choice on the behalf of the caretaker, doctors recommend that all able-bodied individuals receive their vaccinations. Doing so will protect the child from disease and encourage herd immunity, which protects children who cannot receive vaccinations.

Discuss your child's vaccination schedule with your doctor, and don't hesitate to ask them about vaccines in more depth. If you're unsure about whether or not to vaccinate your child, trust your doctor. A proper vaccination may be the only thing standing between your child and terrible illness.