Diphtheria Tetanus Pertussis Vaccine (DTP)

When a child is born, they are more prone and susceptible to many infections because of their low immunity. However, their weak immunity is still building, and vaccinations play an essential role in building babies' immunity. The NIS (National Immunization Schedule) has a list of compulsory and recommended vaccines that a child must receive. You can read about it in our article about Newborn Baby Vaccinations In India. DPT vaccine is an essential part of a baby's vaccination schedule. This article will discuss the DPT vaccine, its benefits and risks, post-vaccine care etc. 

What Is DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis)

Let us try to understand each of these three viruses individually before understanding the DPT vaccine to protect your baby against each of these. (1)

  1. Diphtheria – One of the most dangerous infections for babies, Diphtheria is a life-threatening infection that can cause severe breathing problems and block the airway of your baby. 
  2. Tetanus – One can get infected by Tetanus at any age. Thus, it is recommended that even grown-ups keep taking a booster dose of Tetanus if they have a wound. Tetanus is a nerve disease that happens when toxin-causing bacteria infect an injury. 
  3. Pertussis – Also known as whooping cough, Pertussis has cough-like symptoms that can lead to severe breathing and coughing troubles. This infection usually affects kids below the age of 1 and can be life-threatening. Adults with cough and flu can also have the pertussis virus that can be passed to infants; thus, DPT vaccine is essential when it is recommended. 

Why Should Be DPT Vaccine Taken

The DPT vaccine is a series of 5 vaccines administered at different ages. (2) DPT vaccine is given at:

  1. 6 Weeks
  2. 10 Weeks
  3. 14 Weeks
  4. 16 – 18 Months
  5. 5 Years

The only reason the DPT vaccine is given is to minimize and eventually eliminate the adverse effects or threats to life caused by these three diseases. 

Should One Administer DPT Vaccine To A Sick Child?

Infants and newborns are prone to frequent bouts of cough and cold. However, this is not very serious. Thus, you might not need to delay the vaccination if your baby has a common cold. But your doctor would assess your baby's medical health and advise whether you can give the DPT vaccine to your baby.

Besides cold and cough, the doctor might delay the vaccine even if your baby has an allergic reaction to something. This is because if there is an allergic reaction to any of the chemicals of the DPT vaccine after administering it, it would be difficult to assess whether this is a pre-existing allergy or a new one. 

If this is not the first dose, your doctor will also ask if there were any allergic reactions in the previous dose. And if there are severe and profound side effects, it is advised not to give the next dose.  

Risks Of DPT Vaccine

There are some common post-vaccine symptoms that almost every child experiences. But, on the other hand, there are some serious not so common side effects that a few babies experience. So let us have a look at those risks and symptoms. 

Common Post Vaccine Symptoms / Risks

  • Redness, soreness and swelling on the injection area.
  • Mild fever and irritable behaviour.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Tiredness
  • Extra hours of sleep and sluggishness

Uncommon Post Vaccine Symptoms / Risks

  • A seizure attack – This is not very common and happens in about one out of 14000 babies)
  • Crying for more than three hours.  
  • High fever – higher than 105 degrees.

If any of the above-mentioned uncommon symptoms occur, immediately take your child to their paediatrician and let them assess the situation and further treatment. 

Post Vaccine Care For Kids After DPT Vaccine

Although pain-free options are available in the DPT vaccine, those too are not 100% fool proof and can still cause soreness and pain fever for babies. The area where the injection has been given might also be redness and swelling. A warm damp cloth or a heating pad can be beneficial in relieving the pain of the baby. If still the baby is cranky, ask your doctor to recommend a fever suppressant or a pain killer. The fever would still be managed with sponging, but the root cause – the pain must be dealt with to soothe the baby. Feeding for comfort and baby wearing also helps post-vaccine. 

Vaccines are essential and must be administered, whether it be DTP or any other vaccine that is mandatory for Indian babies. But soothing your baby in pain is equally important. Usually, the fever and pain are gone within 48 hours. These two days keep patience, as there might be sleepless nights ahead. So, cuddle up, comfort feed and help your baby pass these difficult days with love! 

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