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DTP-Hib Vaccine

The DTP-Hib vaccine protects against 4 different diseases - Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (or whooping cough) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).

Your baby should have a DTP-Hib immunisation at 2, 3 and 4 months old.
They will be given a booster against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis before they start school. (They don't need a booster against Hib.) They will get a tetanus and diphtheria booster between the ages of 13 and 18.

What is diphtheria?
Diphtheria is a disease that usually begins with a sore throat and can quickly cause problems with breathing. It can damage the heart and nervous system and, in severe cases, it can kill.

What is tetanus?
Tetanus is a painful disease that affects the muscles and can cause breathing problems. It is caused by germs that are found in soil and manure and can get into the body through open cuts or burns. Tetanus affects the nervous system and, if it is not treated, it can kill.

What is pertussis (whooping cough)?
Whooping cough is a disease that can cause long bouts of coughing and choking which can make it hard to breathe. It can last for up to 10 weeks. It is not usually serious in older children, but it can be very serious in babies under one year old.

What is Hib?
Hib is an infection that can cause a number of major illnesses like blood poisoning, pneumonia and meningitis. All of these illnesses can kill if they are not treated quickly.

The Hib vaccine not only protects your child against one type of meningitis (Hib). It does not protect against any other type of meningitis.

After Immunisation

Your child may get some of the following side effects, which are usually mild.

  • It is quite normal for your baby to be miserable within 48 hours of having the injection.
  • Your baby may develop a fever.
  • You may notice a small lump where your baby had the injection. This may last for a few weeks.

If your child has a worse reaction to the DTP-Hib vaccine, talk to your doctor, nurse or health visitor.

Sometimes babies have fits a day or two after their DTP-Hib vaccination. If your baby has a fit, call your doctor immediately. Babies usually recover from fits quickly and completely.

Young babies can have fits at any time, so having a fit after their vaccination may not necessarily be linked to the vaccine. Your doctor will decide whether your baby can have more doses of the vaccine. But if you delay the immunisation, it can increase the chances or fits after DTP-Hib. So it's important to make sure your child gets vaccinated at the right age.

By Dr Stephen Rose, MD, FRCP, FRCPCh

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