This is given when your child is 2, 3 and 4 months old. (The DT part is also given at age 3 to 5 years as a booster.) The DTP-Hib vaccine protects against three different diseases: Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (whooping cough) and against infection by the bacteria called Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).
How long does it protect for?
Studies suggest that immunity can decline in older children. A booster dose of diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) is offered to young children just before they start school. A further booster of tetanus and low dose diphtheria (Td) is now offered to teenagers to improve their long-term immunity to these diseases.
A booster dose of Hib is not needed.
What is diphtheria?
This disease begins with a sore throat and can progress rapidly to cause problems with breathing. It can damage the heart and the nervous system and in severe cases it can kill. Diphtheria has almost been wiped out in the UK, but it still exists in other parts of the world and it is on the increase in parts of Eastern Europe.
What is tetanus?
Tetanus germs are found in soil. They enter the body through a cut or burn. Tetanus is a painful disease that affects the muscles and can cause breathing problems. If it is not treated, it can kill.
And what about whooping cough (pertussis)?
Whooping cough can be very distressing. In young children it can last for several weeks. Children become exhausted by long bouts of coughing which often cause vomiting and choking. In severe cases this disease can kill.
I hadn't heard of Hib before, what is it?
Hib is an infection that can cause a number of serious illnesses including blood poisoning, pneumonia and meningitis. All of these diseases can be dangerous if not treated quickly. The Hib vaccine protects your child against this one specific type of meningitis. The Hib vaccine does not protect against any other type of meningitis.
How effective is Hib vaccine?
Before the Hib vaccine became part of the childhood immunisation programme in 1992, over 60 children a year died as a result of Hib infection. And more than twice that number were left with permanent brain damage. Since immunisation began, the number of children with Hib meningitis has dropped by more than 95%.
What are the side effects of the DTP-Hib vaccine?
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 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 more severe 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 neccessarily 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 of fits after DTP-Hib vaccine. So it's important to make sure your child gets vaccinated at the right age.
Is it true that the whooping cough vaccine can cause brain damage?
In the 1970s a study was done which seemed to show a link between the whooping cough vaccine and a few babies who suffered brain damage. More recent and reliable studies have not confirmed this theory. But the actual whooping cough disease can cause brain damage.
This information has been sourced from Health Promotion England.