Safety of DTaP/IPV/Hib Vaccine & the Side Effects

Every child in this country is entitled to the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine at 8, 12, and 16 weeks, and this particular vaccine is an extremely effective method of immunising against 5 infectious diseases. DTaP/IPV/Hib confers immunity against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, whooping cough, and Haemophilus influenza type B. In this article we address the safety of the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine and look at what potential side effects to expect.

Safety of the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine

Like all vaccinations approved for widespread public use, the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine is not only evaluated by the manufacturing company for its safety and effectiveness, it is also monitored by independent authorities whose job it is to make sure that any treatment that is to be used by the NHS is perfectly safe.

In the United Kingdom the safety of vaccines in use is constantly under review and monitored by the MHRA’s (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) Yellow Card Scheme. This records any and all side effects observed, keeping a close eye on all vaccines including DTaP/IPV/Hib to ensure their continued safety.

The DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine has been extensively used in the past two decades, and while some side effects have been observed in a minority of cases, the safety of the vaccine has thus far been shown to be very reliable. Only about 2 in every million children immunised with DTaP/IPV/Hib have a severe reaction, and in the following section the side effects of DTaP/IPV/Hib are detailed.

Side effects of DTaP/IPV/Hib

Some mild side effects occur after most vaccines, and these are not a cause for concern. About 10% of children given DTaP/IPV/Hib will develop a slight fever and exhibit some irritability in the days after the vaccination. This is often accompanied by a reddening and swelling of the skin around the site of injection. All of these side effects tend to clear up very quickly, and are actually just signs of the body reacting to the vaccine the way it should.

In a smaller number of cases a baby may exhibit a loss of appetite accompanied by some vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Again this should resolve fairly quickly and is relatively common in 1-10% of babies receiving the vaccination.

A far smaller number of babies can experience more severe side effects, including a high fever and fits (referred to medically as febrile convulsions). These symptoms are extremely rare, but if they do occur you should contact your GP or an ambulance straight away so that your child can be properly examined.

There are rare cases of babies suffering from allergic reactions to vaccines, and in most cases these are fairly mild reactions, however there is a minute risk of anaphylaxis in response to vaccination. Anaphylaxis is an extreme allergic reaction that usually involves difficulty breathing and other symptoms. Fortunately medical staff are well equipped to deal with allergic reactions should they occur, and anaphylaxis is very treatable.

Ultimately it’s important to remember that the benefits of DTaP/IPV/Hib far outweigh the small chance of side effects. This is why the vaccine is so widely used to confer immunity to children who are vulnerable to a plethora of potentially damaging diseases.

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