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diphtheria, haemophilus, pertussis, tetanus, and polio

Pronunciation: dif THEER ee a, hem OFF il us, per TUS is, TET a nus, POE lee oh

Brand: Pentacel

What is the most important information I should know about this vaccine?

The diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae, pertussis, tetanus, and polio vaccine is given in a series of shots. The first shot is usually given when the child is 2 months old. The booster shots are then given at 4 months, 6 months, and 15 to 18 months of age. Your child's individual booster schedule may be different from these guidelines. Follow your doctor's instructions or the schedule recommended by the health department of the state you live in.

Be sure your child receives all recommended doses of this vaccine. If your child does not receive the full series of vaccines, he or she may not be fully protected against the disease.

Your child can still receive a vaccine if he or she has a cold or fever. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until the child gets better before receiving this vaccine.

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Your child should not receive a booster vaccine if he or she had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

Keep track of any and all side effects your child has after receiving this vaccine. When the child receives a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shots caused any side effects.

Becoming infected with diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae, pertussis, tetanus, or polio is much more dangerous to your child's health than receiving the vaccine to protect against these diseases. Like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects, but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

What is diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae, pertussis, tetanus, and polio vaccine?

Diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae, pertussis, tetanus, and polio are serious diseases caused by bacteria.

Diphtheria causes a thick coating in the nose, throat, and airway. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, or death.

Haemophilus influenzae can cause minor flu symptoms or it can cause more serious symptoms such as swelling around the throat, making it hard to swallow or breathe. Haemophilus influenzae can also cause swelling of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).

Pertussis (whooping cough) causes coughing so severe that it interferes with eating, drinking, or breathing. These spells can last for weeks and can lead to pneumonia, seizures (convulsions), brain damage, and death.

Tetanus (lockjaw) causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. It can lead to "locking" of the jaw so the victim cannot open the mouth or swallow. Tetanus leads to death in about 1 out of 10 cases.

Polio affects the central nervous system and spinal cord. It can cause muscle weakness and paralysis. Polio is a life-threatening condition because it can paralyze the muscles that help you breathe.

Diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae, pertussis, and polio are spread from person to person. Tetanus enters the body through a cut or wound.

The diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae, pertussis, tetanus, and polio vaccine is used to help prevent these diseases in children who are ages 6 weeks through 4 years (before the 5th birthday).

This vaccine works by exposing your child to a small dose of the bacteria or a protein from the bacteria, which causes the body to develop immunity to the disease. This vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.

Like any vaccine, the diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae, pertussis, tetanus, and polio vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving this vaccine?

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Your child should not receive this vaccine if he or she has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any vaccine containing diphtheria, haemophilus, pertussis, tetanus, or polio.

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Your child should not receive this vaccine if the child has had a decreased level of consciousness within the past 7 days, or if the child has severe or uncontrolled epilepsy or other seizure disorder.

Your child may not be able to receive this vaccine if he or she has ever received a similar vaccine that caused any of the following within 48 hours:

  • a very high fever (over 104 degrees);
  • excessive crying for 3 hours or longer;
  • fainting or going into shock;
  • seizure (convulsions); or
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome (within 6 weeks after receiving a vaccine containing tetanus).

Before receiving this vaccine, tell the doctor if your child has:

  • a history of seizures;
  • a neurologic disorder or disease affecting the brain (or if this was a reaction to a previous vaccine);
  • if the child is using steroid medication or receiving cancer chemotherapy or radiation treatment; or
  • a weak immune system caused by disease, bone marrow transplant, or by using certain medicines or receiving cancer treatments.

Your child can still receive a vaccine if he or she has a cold or fever. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until the child gets better before receiving this vaccine.

How is this vaccine given?

This vaccine is given as an injection into a muscle. Your child will receive this injection in a doctor's office or other clinic setting.

The diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae, pertussis, tetanus, and polio vaccine is given in a series of shots. The first shot is usually given when the child is 2 months old. The booster shots are then given at 4 months, 6 months, and 15 to 18 months of age. Your child's individual booster schedule may be different from these guidelines. Follow your doctor's instructions or the schedule recommended by the health department of the state you live in.

Your doctor may recommend treating fever and pain with an aspirin-free pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, and others) when the shot is given and for the next 24 hours. Follow the label directions or your doctor's instructions about how much of this medicine to give your child.

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It is especially important to prevent fever from occurring in a child who has a seizure disorder such as epilepsy.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you will miss a booster dose or if you get behind schedule. The next dose should be given as soon as possible. There is no need to start over.

Be sure your child receives all recommended doses of this vaccine. If your child does not receive the full series of vaccines, he or she may not be fully protected against the disease.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid before or after receiving this vaccine?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity after receiving the vaccine.

What are the possible side effects of this vaccine?

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Your child should not receive a booster vaccine if he or she had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

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Keep track of any and all side effects your child has after receiving this vaccine. When the child receives a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shots caused any side effects.

Becoming infected with diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae, pertussis, tetanus, or polio is much more dangerous to your child's health than receiving the vaccine to protect against these diseases. Like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects, but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

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Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if the child has any of these serious side effects:

  • extreme drowsiness, fainting;
  • fussiness, irritability, crying for an hour or longer;
  • seizure (black-out or convulsions); or
  • high fever.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • redness, pain, tenderness, or swelling where the shot was given;
  • low fever;
  • mild fussiness or crying;
  • headache or tiredness;
  • joint pain, body aches;
  • loss of appetite; or
  • mild nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae, pertussis, tetanus, and polio vaccine?

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Before receiving this vaccine, tell the doctor about all other vaccines your child has recently received.

Also tell the doctor if your child has received drugs or treatments in the past 2 weeks that can weaken the immune system, including:

  • an oral, nasal, inhaled, or injectable steroid medicine;
  • medications to treat psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disorders, such as azathioprine (Imuran), efalizumab (Raptiva), etanercept (Enbrel), leflunomide (Arava), and others; or
  • medicines to treat or prevent organ transplant rejection, such as basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral, Gengraf), muromonab-CD3 (Orthoclone), mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept), sirolimus (Rapamune), or tacrolimus (Prograf).

If your child is using any of these drugs, this vaccine may not work as well.

This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can affect this vaccine. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications your child has received. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your child's doctor.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor or pharmacist may have information about this vaccine written for health professionals that you may read. You may also find additional information from your local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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