DTaP/IPV (or dTaP/IPV) vaccine

The DTaP/IPV vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and polio.

This vaccine is usually given to children aged over 3 years 4 months at the same time as they receive the MMR vaccine. It is also used for a primary course of immunisation in children over 10 years old and adults.

The vaccine boosts the immunisations that were given to your child at two, three and four months of age - boosting protection against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and polio.

Questions and answers:

What is diphtheria?

Diphtheria is a serious disease that usually begins with a sore throat and can quickly cause breathing problems. It can damage the heart and nervous system and, in severe cases, can kill. Before the diphtheria vaccine was introduced in the UK, there were up to 70,000 cases of diphtheria a year, causing around 5,000 deaths.

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What is tetanus?

Tetanus is a disease affecting the nervous system that can lead to muscle spasms, cause breathing problems and even kill. It is caused when germs that are found in soil and manure get into the body through open cuts or burns. Tetanus cannot be passed from person to person.

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What is pertussis (whooping cough)?

Whooping cough is a disease that can cause long bouts of coughing and choking, making it hard to breathe. Whooping cough can last for up to ten weeks. Babies under one year of age are most at risk from whooping cough. For these babies, the disease is very serious and can kill. It is not usually as serious in older children. Before the pertussis vaccine was introduced, on average 120,000 cases of whooping cough were reported each year in the UK.

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What is polio?

Polio is a virus that attacks the nervous system and can cause permanent paralysis of the muscles. If it affects the chest muscles or the brain, polio can kill. Before the polio vaccine was introduced, there were as many as 8,000 cases of polio in the UK in epidemic years. Because of the continued success of the polio vaccination, there have been no cases of natural polio infection in the UK for over 20 years (the last case was in 1984).

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How effective are these vaccines?

Studies have shown that the vaccines are very effective. The booster will not only protect your child, it will also prevent the infections from being passed on to other babies who are too young to have had all their immunisations.

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Are there any possible side effects?

Your child may have some redness, swelling or tenderness where they had the injection, but this will usually disappear in a few days. A hard lump may appear in the same place but this will also go away, usually over a few weeks. Occasionally, children may be unwell, irritable, develop a temperature, headache, swollen glands and feel sick.

Read more about the common side effects of immunisations that might occur in babies and young children up to five years of age.

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What is the difference between dTaP/IPV and DTaP/IPV, and does the difference matter?

Diphtheria vaccines are produced in two strengths, depending on how much diphtheria toxoid (the toxin produced by the diphtheria bacteria that has been inactivated) they contain. The two strengths are abbreviated to ‘D’ for the high strength and ‘d’ for the low strength. There are two vaccines available for use as the booster – one containing the high-strength diphtheria (DTaP/IPV) and the other containing low-strength diphtheria (dTaP/IPV). Both vaccines have been shown to provide good responses, and so it doesn’t matter which one your child has for their booster.

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Last reviewed on 29 February 2016

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