Immunizations are a highly-effective method of preventing childhood deaths and illnesses. While newborns and children used to be vulnerable to many potentially fatal viruses and bacteria, vaccinations allow children’s immune systems to fight off these diseases without suffering through them. One such vaccine is the DTaP injection, which is administered to infants at two months old and in a series of booster shots until the child reaches six years of age.
The DTaP vaccine protects children against three deadly bacterial infections:
- Diphtheria. This respiratory infection causes a thick coating at the back of a patient’s throat, making it difficult to talk, swallow, or breathe. Patients may have a sore throat or fever that quickly develops into swelling of the neck and a gray mucus that can block the patient’s airway.
- Tetanus. Tetanus, also called lockjaw, causes painful muscle contractions in the head, neck, and throughout the body. Patients may suffer extreme sweating, drooling, and convulsions, and also be unable to eat, drink, talk, swallow, or even breathe. Tetanus is fatal in an estimated 1 out of 10 people even after medical intervention.
- Pertussis. Like diphtheria, pertussis is an upper respiratory tract infection that causes the development of a thick mucus layer, but it occurs inside the patient’s airways. This results in persistent coughing with a detectable, high-pitched “whoop” sound as the patient takes a breath—as a result, the condition is commonly known as whooping cough. If left untreated, the cough may last for weeks and make it difficult for the patient to breathe—it can be fatal in both young children and adults.
Common Side Effects of DTaP Vaccines
The first combination diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine was known as DTP and was created in 1949. The vaccine was modified in the 1990s the after numerous reports of adverse reactions to the pertussis immunization, and is now known as DTaP or TDaP. Although the vaccine may safeguard children from these deadly infections, it also comes with its own range of side effects, including:
- Fever. The diphtheria vaccine is created by making an inert form of the bacteria called a toxoid. The toxoid provokes an immune response that protects against infection, but it may also cause shoulder pain and soreness at the injection site and a low-grade fever.
- Allergic reaction. The tetanus toxoid carries the same risk of fever and soreness as the diphtheria vaccine, but has also been associated with the risk of severe allergic reaction. While extremely rare, some children may suffer hives, low blood pressure, and problems breathing after receiving the tetanus vaccine.
- Ongoing symptoms. While the “whole cell” vaccine used before 1996 has a much higher rate of side effects, the new pertussis vaccine still carries a risk of severe reactions. Roughly 1 in 10,000 children may suffer high fevers (over 105 degrees), inconsolable crying, seizures, extreme lethargy, and decreased muscle tone.
- Combination risks. Administration of many vaccines at one time may increase the risk and severity of side effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that a combination DPT injection can result in moderate to severe side effects that include pain and swelling at the injection site, fevers over 102 degrees, headaches, stomachaches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Patients who have suffered severe side effects of vaccines may qualify for payment through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). Through NVICP, patients and families can be reimbursed for their increased medical costs without the need to file a lawsuit. However, these claims can still be denied, forcing parents to pursue their case in court to get justice for their child’s vaccine injury.
Shannon Law Group is able to represent vaccine injury victims from any state in the U.S., allowing families to get adequate compensation for their medical bills, lost income, and unnecessary suffering no matter where they live. Simply fill out our online contact form today to tell us your story and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys.