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Deciphering the ABCs behind the DTP Vaccine #KnowYourVaccines

There is an entire checklist of vaccines that your child needs from birth through the first years of their life. Knowing their purpose and side effects can help you prepare them.

Updated:April 11, 2019, 6:06 PM IST
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Deciphering the ABCs behind the DTP Vaccine #KnowYourVaccines
There is an entire checklist of vaccines that your child needs from birth through the first years of their life. Knowing their purpose and side effects can help you prepare them.
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Getting the DTP vaccine is one of the many health requirements that a good pediatrician will schedule for a newborn. But what is DTP? As a parent or guardian, you need to be in the know.

The first few years of parenting can be extremely hectic. Blindly relying on your doctor to see to your child’s medical milestones can be tempting, but it is crucial to your child’s wellbeing to go in fully aware of the needs and consequences of every allopathic intervention. For example, most parents may not even know what the acronym ‘DTP’ stands for. Or that it can cause uncomfortable side effects and, in rare cases, serious allergic reactions. This important vaccine is necessary no doubt, but don’t go into the process without educating yourself. We cover all you need to know about the DTP vaccine before taking your child to get one.

What does DTP stand for?

The vaccine provides protection against three serious diseases caused by bacterias. Each alphabet corresponds to the first letter of each illnesses’ name: ‘D’ for Diphtheria, 'T' for Tetanus and 'P' for Pertussis. Many may be familiar with Tetanus, which infects the body through contact via cuts and wounds. The other two diseases, Diphtheria and Pertussis, are contagious through physical contact.

How could these diseases affect my baby’s or child’s body?

Every child who has not received the DTP vaccine is in danger of contracting these debilitating illnesses. Here is how each can have a profound effect on the body.

Tetanus: The condition is often neglected as a person may not even realise they have become infected, resulting in dangerous consequences. Tetanus causes the muscles all over the body to tighten. It is painful and can result in the jaw locking, leaving the sufferer unable to open their mouth or swallow.

Diphtheria: Once the Diphtheria bacteria infects a person, it forms a thick coating at the back of the throat, giving rise to complications such as trouble with breathing, paralysis, heart failure and, in serious cases, even death.

Pertussis: More commonly known as whooping cough or black cough, Pertussis results in severe coughing for weeks, making it hard for babies and children affected to consume food, drink and breathe. Complications from Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, convulsions, brain damage and even death.

When should my child get the vaccine?

The DTP vaccine schedule for infants consists of five doses: at 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks, and then a booster shot 16-18 months and a second booster shot at 5 years.

What if my child is older?

Above the age of 7, the DTP vaccine should not be administered. Children and adults who have not received the vaccine can be vaccinated against Diphtheria and Tetanus with a booster shot of DT at 11 to 12 years old and then once every 10 years.

Will my child experience any side-effects?

There are a few common side effects. These do not cause long-term harm and the regular dose schedule should be proceeded with after. These symptoms usually clear up in a few days but it makes sense to schedule a bit more time for attention and TLC during the time your baby is recovering. Side-effects include mild fever, redness or swelling and soreness at the injection site. Children may also seem tired, irritable and fussy with a poor appetite and nausea for one to three days after taking the vaccine.

Serious Reactions: Some children are severely allergic to the DTP vaccine. However, these are extremely rare cases as low as one in a million. If a child suffers a bad allergic reaction or medical emergency upon the first dosage, immediate and appropriate care should be taken and your medical practitioner should not administer the second dose. Here are the scenarios in which further doses for children are not recommended:

● A life-threatening allergic reaction

● Encephalopathy or nervous system illness within a week after dose

● A temperature of 105°F within 48 hours

● Collapsing or shock-like state within 48 hours

● Continuous crying for 3 hours or more within 48 hours

● Convulsions within 3 days

World Immunisation Week (April 24-30) is upon us and it is our duty to be informed and appreciate how much immunization has changed the way we live, banishing the fear of diseases that used to regularly claim the lives of children earlier. Unfortunately, in India, there is a lack of awareness when it comes to proper medical care. Spreading information about immunization can teach others, such as the underprivileged, about taking care of young children and the importance of proper vaccinations schedules, saving parents from the hardship and heartbreak of caring for a severely ill child.

Today, there is an entire checklist of vaccines that your child needs from birth through the first years of their life. Knowing their purpose and side effects can help you prepare them, and yourself, for any side-effects and discomfort during and post their appointment.

To know more about the Swasth Immunised India campaign, click here.

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