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The DTaP vaccine is given to prevent infection with the bacteria that cause diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw), and pertussis (whooping cough) infections. The vaccine is approved for use in children up to the age of seven. This vaccine is a safer version of an older vaccine called DTP, which is no longer used in the United States. Children should get five doses of this newer vaccine (at 2, 4, 6, and 15 to 18 months of age, then at four to six years of age).

What Is DTaP?

DTaP is vaccine given to prevent infection with the bacteria that cause diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis infections. The vaccine is approved for use in children up to the age of seven. DTaP stands for diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine.
 
A similar vaccine (known as Tdap) is available for adolescents and adults.
 

Understanding Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis

Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis are serious conditions caused by bacteria. Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person. Tetanus enters the body through cuts or wounds.
 
Diphtheria causes a thick covering in the back of the throat. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and even death.
 
Tetanus (also known as lockjaw) causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. It can lead to "locking" of the jaw so the victim cannot open his mouth or swallow. Tetanus leads to death in about 1 out of 10 cases.
 
Pertussis (also known as whooping cough) is characterized by severe coughing spells that may end in a "whooping" sound when the infected person inhales. Whooping cough symptoms can last for weeks to months; and it has been termed the "100-day cough" because of its long duration and severity. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures (jerking and staring spells), brain damage, and death.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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