Getting to know childhood vaccines: DTaP

Parents have a lot to worry about regarding their children’s healthy development—from meal planning to pedestrian safety. But one thing parents shouldn’t have to worry about is vaccine-preventable diseases, like those included in the DTaP vaccine . Getting your child vaccinated according to the schedule recommended by pediatric specialists is one of the most effective ways to protect him or her from serious diseases. The pediatric doctors at Sunrise Children’s Hospital understand that it’s normal for parents to have questions and concerns about vaccinations. We welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with you, because healthy families make strong communities.

Understanding the DTaP vaccine
DTaP is a combination vaccine that protects children from diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis . These diseases are all caused by bacteria, and all of them are serious. All three of these diseases have the potential to cause death, but fortunately, they are easily prevented with the DTaP vaccine.

Exploring vaccine-preventable diseases
Diphtheria is a highly contagious infection that can spread through contact with an infected person’s skin, secretions (sneezing or coughing) and personal items. The hallmark sign of diphtheria is a grayish covering that coats the back of the throat and can block the airway. The toxins produced by the bacteria can inflict damage on the heart, kidneys and nerves.

The bacteria that cause tetanus produce a toxin that inflicts damage on the nervous system. Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, can cause severe muscle spasms, difficulty breathing and seizures.

Pertussis, also called whooping cough, is highly contagious. Its symptoms can seem like a cold at first. Later, children with whooping cough develop severe coughing that makes it difficult to breathe.

Getting the DTaP vaccine on schedule
Children need five doses of DTaP. One dose needs to be given at these ages:

  • Two months
  • Four months
  • Six months
  • 15-18 months
  • Four to six years

Children often receive multiple shots at the same doctor’s appointment. Giving multiple injections does not make any vaccine less safe, but delaying vaccines could place a child’s health at risk.

Family-centered education is something we emphasize here at Sunrise Children’s Hospital in Las Vegas. Our pediatric physicians and nurses take the time to work one-on-one with parents to ensure that they have all the information they need to make the best decision for their children’s health. Call our nurse referral line today at (702) 233-5437.

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