DPT (Triple dose) Vaccine

DPT (Triple dose) Vaccine

Previously diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus used to be a major health concern in the world. Worldwide there used to be large number of deaths in children below 5 years of age due to these diseases. DPT Vaccine is one of the vaccines which is part of universal immunization schedule. It should be given to all children. It is a trivalent vaccine. It is included in national immunization schedule of many nations. Still the coverage and acceptance is far below in many nations or parts of nations.

What is DPT triple or DTwP vaccine?

DPT vaccine has diphtheria and tetanus toxoid and killed whole cell component of the pertussis. It is also called as DTwP as it contains diphtheria and tetanus toxoids with killed whole cell pertussis components. This is a combination vaccine containing antigens from three types of bacteria. It contains diphtheria toxoid 20-30 Lf and tetanus toxoid 2-25 Lf. These antigens are adsorbed on aluminium salts. Aluminium salts act as immunity adjuvants that is immunity can develop effectively when these antigens are conjudated or adsorbed to aluminium salts.

How the DPT or DTwP vaccine stored?

The vaccine is store at 2-8 degree Celsius temperature. It should not be frozen. If frozen accidentally should be discarded.

How DPT or DTwP vaccine is administered?

DPT or DTwP vaccine is in injection form. It is given as injection in deep intramuscularly. Preferably on anterolateral aspect of thigh. 

At what age DPT or DTwP shot is given?

DPT or DTwP vaccine is given at 6, 10, 14 weeks of age with boosters at 18 months and 4-5 year age.

What if DPT or DTwP vaccination is missed?

If missed this vaccination should be given as earliest as possible. DPT can be given till 7 years of age at least 3 doses. Above 7 years of age DTaP or Tdap is used instead of DPT or DTwP.

If someone gets the disease should he still get DPT?

If someone already got ill by diphtheria, pertussis or tetanus and survived these illness he/she should definitely get the vaccine shots as recommended as these diseases do not produce permanent immunity in body and there is chance of recurrence of disease in future too. 

What are alternatives of DPT/DTwP vaccine?

DPT vaccine is a painful vaccine though the pain is manageable at home with medications, still people opt for the painless variant. DTaP is a painless variant. It can be used in children below 7 years of age. For those above 7 years of age Tdap is used. 

Since DPT is a trivalent vaccine and it protects against only 3 diseases diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus, generally hexavalent vaccine is used to reduce the number of pricks to children,. Hexavalent (Easysix, Hexaxim, Infanrix hexa) variety protects against Haemophilus influenzae type b and hepatitis B and polio along with diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

Pentavac protects against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, haemophilus influenza type b (HiB) and Hepatitis B.

Pentaxim protects against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio and HiB.

What are side effects of DPT triple and DTwP?

  •  Most common side effects are pain and fever.  
  • Pain is usually seen at the injection site with tenderness. It is associated with swelling and redness. It usually lasts for 3 days in some cases it may last for 7 days. Local cold compresses helps to reduce the pain and swelling at the injection site.
  • Fever usually occurs after few hours of injection and it may last till 3 days. It generally subsides with fever medication like paracetamol. In some cases it may be high grade fever.
  • Those children who have tendency to get febrile convulsion may get those convulsions like in any other fever and the fever should be controlled.
  • Irritability and crying is seen after giving injection. It may last for some hours after giving injection. It usually subsides bu its own after some hours.
  • Refusal to feed may occur after giving injection and can be controlled with fever and pain medication.
  • Allergic reaction: Mild to severe allergic reaction may come though very rarely 1 in only 1 million doses it may be life threatening. Though looking at mortality due to diseases this seems acceptable risk.

To whom DTwP or DPT triple vaccine is not given?

  • If child previously had severe life threatening allergic reaction to this vaccine in past. 
  • If the child has a disease that is neurological involving brain and is progressive in nature.
  • For static diseases like cerebral palsy though the presentation may be progressive but the lesions in brain are static and the vaccine is no contraindication.

Side effects are part of vaccination and if compared to the disability and mortality due to these diseases it appears the side effects are very mild and can be manageable at home with simple medications.

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