How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

The pertussis - diphtheria toxoid - tetanus toxoid - inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine belong to a group of medications known as vaccines. It is used to prevent pertussis (whooping cough), diphtheria, tetanus, and poliomyelitis (polio).

This vaccine is used for the primary immunization of infants 2 months old or older, and as a booster for children over the age of 4 years. It increases your defenses against pertussis and polio infections and against the toxins produced by tetanus and diphtheria bacteria.

It works by stimulating the production of your own antibodies, which will remain in the body ready to attack any future bacteria or viruses and deal with the toxins produced during tetanus or diphtheria infections.

Your child's doctor may have suggested this vaccine for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this vaccine may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your child's doctor or are not sure why your child is receiving this vaccine, speak to your child's doctor.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each dose (0.5 mL) of sterile, uniform, cloudy, white suspension contains 5 Lf of tetanus toxoid, 2 Lf of reduced diphtheria toxoid, acellular pertussis antigens [2.5 μg of pertussis toxoid (PT), 5 μg of filamentous haemagglutinin (FHA), 3 μg of pertactin (PRN), 5 μg of fimbriae types 2 and 3 (FIM)], and inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine [40 D-antigen units of type 1 (Mahoney), 8 D-antigen units of type 2 (MEF-1) and 32 D-antigen units of type 3 (Saukett)]. Nonmedicinal ingredients: aluminum phosphate (adjuvant), 2-phenoxyethanol, polysorbate 80, bovine serum albumin, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, streptomycin, neomycin, and polymyxin B.

How should I use this medication?

The usual dose of this vaccine is 0.5 mL given as an injection into the muscle of the upper outer arm in children 4 years of age and older, adolescents, and adults who have been previously vaccinated against pertussis, diphtheria, polio, and tetanus.

This vaccine is given by a health care professional in a doctor's office or clinic.

It is very important that this vaccine be given on a regular schedule as prescribed by the doctor. If your child misses a dose of this vaccine, check with your child's health care professional. Add all vaccines your child receives to their immunization record.

Store this medication in the refrigerator and keep it out of the reach of children. Do not allow it to freeze.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Pertussis - diphtheria toxoid - tetanus toxoid - inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine should not be used by anyone who:

  • is allergic to the pertussis - diphtheria toxoid - tetanus toxoid - poliomyelitis vaccine, or to any of the ingredients of the vaccine or any components of the container
  • is allergic to neomycin or polymyxin
  • has a neurological disorder (such as infantile spasms, uncontrolled epilepsy, or progressive encephalopathy) that is untreated or unstable
  • has had encephalopathy (brain inflammation) within 7 days of a previous dose of a pertussis-containing vaccine
  • has developed low platelets following a previous dose of a diphtheria- or pertussis-containing vaccine

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who receives this vaccine. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this vaccine with your child's doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people receiving this vaccine. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your child's doctor if your child experiences these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • crying
  • decreased appetite or feeding
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • fussiness or irritability
  • headache
  • redness, swelling, soreness, tenderness, or pain at place of injection
  • tiredness
  • sore or swollen joints

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your child's doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your child's doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • limpness
  • rash
  • unresponsiveness
  • vomiting

Seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • convulsions (seizures)
  • fever over 40.5°C (105°F)
  • signs of a severe allergic reaction (e.g., hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the mouth or throat)

Be sure to mention any side effects to your child's doctor, as it may mean that your child is allergic to the vaccine.

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your child's doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you after your child receives this vaccine.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before your child receives this vaccine, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies your child may have, any medications your child is taking, and any other significant facts about your child's health. These factors may affect the vaccine your child is receiving.

Allergic reactions: In rare cases, this vaccine may cause severe allergic reactions. If you notice signs of a severe allergic reaction (e.g., hives; trouble breathing or swallowing; or swelling of the lips, face, throat, or tongue), get medical attention immediately.

Bleeding: If your child has a bleeding disorder or is taking anticoagulants (blood thinners), discuss with their doctor how this vaccine may affect their medical condition and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Immune system: As with any vaccine, this vaccine may not be as effective for people with a weakened immune system (e.g., people with AIDS or cancer, people taking antirejection medications after an organ transplant, people receiving chemotherapy, or people taking any medication that suppresses the immune system). If your child has a weakened immune system, their doctor may decide to postpone the vaccine till their immune system recovers.

Infection: Your child’s doctor may decide to delay this vaccine if your child has an acute infection or fever. Mild infections without fever, such as colds, usually do not require delay of the vaccine.

Seizures: If your child has an increased risk of seizures, their doctor may suggest that a medication to prevent fever (e.g., acetaminophen) be given at the time of vaccination and for 24 hours after the vaccine.

Vaccine protection: As with any vaccine, this vaccine may not protect 100% of people who receive it and may not prevent infection in those people already infected with the bacteria or virus.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: This medication  should not be administered to women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Children: This medication is not recommended for children under 2 months of age.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between the pertussis - diphtheria toxoid - tetanus toxoid - poliomyelitis vaccine and any of the following:

  • acetaminophen
  • belimumab
  • fingolimod
  • immunosuppressants (medications used to treat cancer or autoimmune disease, or prevent organ rejection)
    • azathioprine
    • corticosteroids (e.g., budesonide, dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, fluticasone, prednisone)
    • cyclosporine
    • hydroxyurea
    • infliximab
    • medications to treat cancer (e.g., carboplatin, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, ifosfamide, vincristine)
    • mycophenolate
    • rituximab
    • tacrolimus
  • warfarin

If your child is taking any of these medications, speak with their doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your child's specific circumstances, your child's doctor may want your child to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how your child is taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that your child must stop taking one of them. Speak to your child's doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this vaccine.Tell your child's doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), supplements, and herbal medications your child is taking.