The best way to protect your children against pertussis is to get them immunized. The pertussis vaccine is part of the normal childhood vaccine which is given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 18 months old, and again at age 4 to 6 years (before Kindergarten). A pertussis vaccine is also given to teens at 14 to 16 years of age (Grade 9) in British Columbia.
If you are not sure if your child has been given their "shots" for pertussis and other diseases, check your child's Health Passport, or ask your family doctor or local health unit.
Is there a vaccine available?
The vaccine being used at 2, 4, and 6 months is Diphtheria/Tetanus/acellular Pertussis/hepatitis B/polio/Hib and protects against 6 diseases. At 18 months it is Diphtheria/Tetanus/acellular Pertussis/Polio/Hib. The vaccine given as a booster when a child starts school (age 4 to 6 years) is Diphtheria/Tetanus/acellular Pertussis/Polio. The vaccine given to teens (age 14 to 16 years) in Grade 9 is diphtheria/Tetanus/acellular Pertussis.
Possible Vaccine Reactions
Some children will have a slight fever and be cranky, drowsy or not want to eat in the day or two after the shot. If your child develops a fever, you can give them a medication containing acetaminophen. If your child is at increased risk for febrile seizures following immunization, you can give them acetaminophen, prior to, or at the time of the immunization, and then 4 to 5 times daily, at intervals of 4 to 6 hours, not to exceed 5 doses in 24 hours. Discuss this with the public health nurse, family doctor or pharmacist. Children may also develop some soreness, swelling or redness in the area where the shot was given. A small painless lump may develop where the shot was given but usually disappears within two months.
Fever, crankiness, drowsiness, and soreness may last for one to two days and can usually be helped by putting cool cloths on the needle site, giving extra fluids if the child has a fever and giving the child a lukewarm bath or sponge bath.
With any vaccine or drug there is a possibility of a shock-like allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). This can be hives, wheezy breathing, or swelling of some part of the body. If this happens, particularly swelling around the throat, immediately get to your family doctor or hospital emergency.
It is suggested that persons stay in the clinic for at least 15 minutes after receiving any type of immunization.
Report serious reactions to your local public health nurse or family doctor.
The benefits of protection against these four diseases significantly outweigh any risk from the vaccine.
NOTE: Acetaminophen is recommended if there is fever or pain following immunization.
Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA or aspirin) must NOT be given to children.
If your child is receiving cortisone or other drugs which affect their immunity, they can still get the immunization; however, these drugs can interfere with the body's ability to produce a good level of protection.
If your child has the following conditions, consult with a public health nurse or their family doctor before your child receives the vaccine:
- History of a shock-like allergic (anaphylactic) reaction to a previous dose of DPT, DTaP, Polio, Hib or Hepatitis B - containing vaccine or to any INFANRIX hexaä vaccine component, or to latex.
- History of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within 8 weeks of receipt of a "tetanus-containing vaccine.”