DTP (DTwP / DTaP) Vaccine

Diptheria toxoid  combined with tetanus and pertussis vaccines (whooping cough disease) is called DTP  vaccine. Pertussis vaccines are either whole cell (wP), meaning that the vaccine contains the entire pertussis organism or acellular (aP), meaning that the vaccine contains only a part of the pertussis organism. Depending on the type of Pertussis component, DTP vaccines are called DTwP or DTaP respectively. This vaccine  is included in the mandatory childhood immunization program by Govt. Of India.

Recommended Dosage:

Primary Dose

  • The primary series of DTwP or DTaP containing vaccines should be given in 3 doses to all infants, starting at a minimum age of 6 weeks, given at 4 week intervals
  • DTaP vaccine /combinations should preferably be avoided for the primary series
  • DTaP is preferred to DTwP in children, with a history of allergy to previous doses of DTwP or, suffering from neurological disorders

Booster Dose

  • 1-2 Booster doses should be given for better protection against the disease
  • First one  at 16-24 months of age, followed by a second in  4-7 yrs of age
  • Well tolerated DTaP can be considered for boosters if DTwP need to be avoided due to its higher reactogenicity

Who should avoid or delay the DTP (DTwP/DTaP) vaccine?

  • Children who are severely ill should wait until they fully recover before getting vaccinated
  • Any child who had an episode of  life-threatening allergy or  suffered brain or nervous system disorder within 7 days after a dose of DTwP/DTaP vaccine should not get another dose
  • Pertussis containing vaccines should be avoided if the child had seizures, cried non-stop for 3 hours or more, had fever over 105 degrees Fahrenheit after they were vaccinated. Vaccine without pertussis component, called DT can be given to provide immunity against Diptheria and Tetanus in that case
  • DTaP should not be given to anyone 7 years of age or older

Side effects

Diptheria toxoid is one of the  safest vaccines. Fever and local pain can be there at the site of injection. No allergic reaction to diphtheria has been known till  date.  Allergies in the combination vaccine are mostly due to the pertussis component which can be substituted with the DT vaccine in extreme cases.

Minor reactions like local redness and swelling, pain, mild fever and agitation are frequently associated with whole-cell; wP vaccines. Continuous crying for more than 3 hours, fever higher than 105 degree F,  and seizures are less common. In case of allergies, acellular; aP vaccines should be used. DTaP  vaccines have only a part of pertussis component. So, they are not associated with pain and allergic reactions. Due to this, all DTaP containing vaccines even the combination vaccines  are commonly called as painless vaccines.

Should you opt for painless vaccines  for your child?

Painless vaccines or DTaP vaccines are costlier than DTwP vaccines. Are they really worth the cost? Primary vaccination of an infant should preferably be done with regular DTwP vaccines or the combination vaccines containing DTwP. Reason for this is, they provide better immunity as compared to DTaP  vaccines in spite of being cheaper, than the later.  Recent research has also shown that DTaP fails to prevent transmission and spread of Pertussis among people, as it does not prevent Pertussis from entering and living inside the airways of vaccinated persons. So, the vaccinated persons are themselves immune but can still spread the disease to unvaccinated  people or persons with weak immunity. There were events of Pertussis outbreaks in USA and developed world where painless vaccines are commonly used.

Marketed DTP Products

Here is the list of WHO pre-qualified vaccine products available in market. Click on name of the product to know more.