Part 1 Diphtheria: DTaP – 5 times by 5 years

Let’s talk a little bit about the DTaP Vaccine. This stands for Diphtheria, Tetanus and acellular Pertussis. This is recommended according to the CDC’s schedule at: 2mo, 4mo, 6mo, 15mo & 5 years, 11years, then every 10 years after that, and every pregnancy (regardless of when you had it last.). (Just a side note, starting at 11 years it switches to Tdap.) Let’s look at how many cases of these diseases we have each year in America and how many deaths are from these disease each year as well.

First for fun let’s show an example. Let’s assume you follow the schedule for DTaP and you had 3 pregnancies and lived to be 90. How many times would you receive this vaccine* over your lifetime? P.S. If you guessed 16x you are correct. Here is how: 2mo, 4mo, 6mo, 15mo, 5yr, 11yr, 21yr, 3more times over your 20s for each pregnancy, then each decade 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90. Do you think that all adults are caught up on their booster shots? That is a lot of times to be getting this type of vaccine. (*On a side note DTaP is for children up <7, then it switches to the Tdap vaccine)

Starting with Diphtheria. What is that anyways? According to the CDC, “The bacteria most commonly infect the respiratory system, which includes parts of the body involved in breathing. When the bacteria get into and attach to the lining of the respiratory system, it can cause: weakness, sore throat, mild fever, swollen glands in the neck. The bacteria make a toxin (poison) that kills healthy tissues in the respiratory system. Within two to three days, the dead tissue forms a thick, gray coating that can build up in the throat or nose. Medical experts call this thick, gray coating a “pseudomembrane.” It can cover tissues in the nose, tonsils, voice box, and throat, making it very hard to breathe and swallow. If the toxin gets into the blood stream, it can cause heart, nerve, and kidney damage.” (

That sounds pretty scary. So how many cases of Diphtheria are we seeing in the US each year? Well 0, yes you heard that correctly, NONE! Here is a graph from the CDC I found from 1980-2011. (Notice that on the y axis it is number of cases total, not in thousands or in 100s of thousands; no, 5 total cases is the most they had in a few years.)

For dates following that, “During 2004–2017, state health departments reported 2 cases of diphtheria in the United States.” ( That is 2 cases total over that entire time frame!

Let’s look at the DTaP insert to see what it has to say:

“Encephalopathy (e.g., coma, decreased level of consciousness, prolonged seizures) within 7 days of administration of a previous dose of a pertussis-containing vaccine that is not attributable to another identifiable cause is a contraindication to administration of any pertussis-containing vaccine, including INFANRIX.” (Infantrixinsert)

“If Guillain-Barré syndrome occurs within 6 weeks of receipt of a prior vaccine containing tetanus toxoid, the decision to give any tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine, including INFANRIX, should be based on careful consideration of the potential benefits and possible risks.” (Infantrixinsert)

“Syncope (fainting) can occur in association with administration of injectable vaccines, including INFANRIX. Syncope can be accompanied by transient neurological signs such as visual disturbance, paresthesia, and tonic-clonic limb movements. Procedures should be in place to avoid falling injury and to restore cerebral perfusion following syncope.”(Infantrixinsert)

Has Sudden Infant Death happed following this vaccine? YES look at the last line of this picture!!!

I hope this gives you more incite into the risk benefit analysis of this vaccine.

So we are vaccinating our children for Diphtheria when the likelihood of them getting Diphtheria is as close to 0 as you can get. You can decide for yourself now if you think your child needs to be vaccinated against Diphtheria.

Next Part 2 on Tetanus!

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