DTaP Vaccine - Childhood Vaccine Series

What is the vaccine?

DTaP is a combination vaccine that includes immunities against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis. I’m going to break each of these down.


What is the disease?

Diphtheria is a serious throat infection that releases a toxin that aggravates the throat and lungs, leading to excessive coughing and difficulty breathing. This disease is transmitted like the common cold and in severe cases can close off the breathing passages altogether. Diphtheria has a 10% fatality rate.

Is it serious?

Diphtheria can be very serious, however there is an antitoxin that can be given intravenously along with antibiotics to treat this disease.

Is it common?

Diphtheria is rare in the U.S. At most, 5 cases are reported each year, and many years there are no cases reported. (Of course, reported cases versus actual are up to debate but, on a whole, not a common infant disease.)

Mama Natural’s take:

Due to the very low incidence rate, coupled with the effective treatment if caught early, I’m not concerned with vaccinating against Diphtheria.


What is the disease?

Tetanus is a bacterium that lives in soil and on dirty, rust metals. Tetanus is caused by bacteria known as Clostridium tetani, which is commonly found in soil, dust and animal feces. The danger is when this bacterium enters your body through a deep wound where it can multiply and cause havoc on your body. Tetanus releases a toxin that enters a person’s nervous system and can cause paralysis throughout the entire body but usually begins in the jaw. (Think lockjaw.)

Is it serious?

Tetanus is serious, with a 15% fatality rate. While antibody and antibiotics can help treat the germs, there isn’t medication that can reverse the paralysis which can take several weeks to wear off. You’ll have to head to the hospital for an antitoxin known as tetanus immune globulin. You can also get the tetanus vaccine shortly after the puncture wound and it can help ward off disease but keep in mind it contains mercury.

Is it common?

Tetanus is extremely rare in infants in the U.S. since their chances of developing a deep wound and being exposed to soil or rusty metal isn’t probable.

Mama Natural’s take:

Due to the very rare chance of a child under one stepping on a rusty nail, I would not be concerned about vaccinating against Tetanus.


What is the disease?

This is a “hot” topic right now with health care professionals since we’ve seen an increase in this disease. Also known as “whooping cough,” Pertussis is actually similar to Diphtheria but not as life-threatening. Initially, symptoms are like the common cold but leads into a deep whooping cough. These coughing spells can last up to a minute which can be dangerous for a young infant who needs consistent oxygen to their brain. Pertussis is spread like the common cold and can last for a month.

Is it serious?

Pertussis is serious for infants under 6 months old, with a 1% fatality rate. Beyond 6 months, fatalities are extremely rare. Antibiotics can treat the bacteria, however the coughing spells need to run their course and can take several weeks to clear up. Infants may need to be hospitalized during these spells to get extra oxygen and medical support.

Is it common?

Pertussis is common, with 27,550 cases reported in 2010—and many more cases that go unreported. One of the main culprits for the spread of this disease is teens and adults.

The disease is much less pronounced in older adults, so many go weeks without treatment, unknowingly spreading the germs to babies.

Is the vaccine controversial?

There are several manufacturers of the DTaP vaccine but all of them include aluminum and formaldehyde, two ingredients that are not ideal for young babies.

  • Aluminum can store in baby’s brain and bone, causing toxicity and kidney malfunction.
  • Formaldehyde is a potent chemical used for preservation. I remember dissecting a formaldehyde-soaked frog in freshman Biology class, and the smell alone signals poison. Although vaccines contain minimal doses, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that can cause kidney and gene damage when inhaled.

Be aware that the Tripedia brand (manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur) contains trace amounts of mercury. Mercury is a highly toxic chemical that can affect the immune and central nervous systems. We could do a whole paper on dangers of Mercury, but they call it Mercury poisoning for a reason.

Mama Natural’s take:

Unfortunately, there isn’t a vaccine for just Pertussis. If there was, I probably would have given to Griffin. However, since it’s combined with 2 other vaccines in a cocktail of some questionable ingredients, I decided against it. (BTW, there are separate Tetanus and Diphtheria vaccines but I don’t think they are necessary given the very small occurrences in the U.S.) A major factor to consider is how much public exposure your infant will have in the first 6 weeks of life.

Another option is for mom, dad, older siblings and grandma to get the Tdap vaccine (think DTaP for adults) to protect your infant from exposure.

Here are all the other videos in this series

DISCLAIMER: This video is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you, your children, or any other individual. Mama Natural provides general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this video is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. Mama Natural is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this video or site.
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  1. I see other commenters have asked this question, but haven’t seen a reply yet. My midwife wants to me to get a Tdap shot with this pregnancy. My last shot was 5 yrs ago, but with the new “regulations” where I live they want every pregnant women to get one, regardless of when their last shot was. Do you recommend it during pregnancy? If not, would you recommend it after pregnancy? I worry about getting it after pregnancy too, because I’ve heard it can “shed”(not sure if that’s true or not.) I also have a son who will be three when baby is born, and he is not vaccinated either. My husband did recently get his Tdap shot. I am really torn and not sure what to do.

  2. Thanks for all of the info. My little guy is just over 2 months old and I pushed off his vaccines at his last appointment because he’s a little congested. He’s up for them again in a few days and I’m petrified. He will go to daycare after the first of the year, I truly wished he didn’t have to go, so I could put off any vaccines till he’s older and his constitution is stronger. Scared first time momma.

  3. Thanks so much for another great video.

    At week 30, I was offered TDAP – what’s your stance on the vaccine? I declined until my next visit (so I could have a bit of time to research the pros and cons) but I’m having a difficult time finding info…

    Looking forward to your insight as to if this would be a route you’d go, or not.

    • It is true that when you are vaccinated against pertussis you can be an asymptomatic carrier or even a symptomatic carrier which I agree can be dangerous, but only live vaccines can shed.

  4. I actually stepped on a rusty nail when i was 3 or 4 years old 🙁

  5. Hi , Genevieve, I applaud all your work time and energy , to try and provide a educated second opinion and other options to parents. this is such a hot topic and proof on both sides of the board. so its such a diffuciult thing to try and figure out what is safe what is best depending on the child and situation.

    i work in a day care and have seen kids still get the whooping cough. and just recently . a child who has been diagnosed with austim recieved a phone call from the goverment saying their nurse at the dr. office accidently gave the child 2 shots of something that was only suppose to be given once. i think it may have been the mmr. but now they have to do testing to see the mercury levels , etc and how this is affecting the child. things like this are so sad and upsetting . but i know i will get hate mail and comments of i say any vaccine causes autism as theres no proof and the beahviour starts to show at the same time the child is getting vaccined.

    mostly i emailed you because i was curious about what i have heard about children and having pets. because speicifally this vacine talks about preventing getting sick from fecies .. but more i just wanted to know about pets dogs and cats and kids living in the same home…

    i was wondering if having pets at home … helps build the immuntiy of babies and kids .. because i have heard that .but wondering if there is proof of that. also if it helps with allergies …

    if someone is exposed to pets when they are little is it possible they wont suffer from pet allergies when they are older ?

    also do you have any pets at home ?

    wishing you and your family and everyone a happy new year !!! xoxox and all the best for everyone for 2015

  6. My Dr. wants me to get DTAP while pregnant, to protect the baby. What are your thoughts?

    • hi , I was wondering if you ended up having the tdap shot? I am 33 weeks currently and have been offered that my last 2 visits, I am thinking I am going to decline and just get it when the baby is born. Eventhough it takes time to be in my system I just think with all the things they tell you to not do while pregnant and not eat, but its okay to have this injected into your body.

  7. You said in the video that if you have another baby you will vaccinate Griffin. Did you follow through with that and vaccinate before Paloma was born, as well as you and your husband? Or did you still hold off on this vaccine?

    Thank you!

  8. I am confused by the last sentence in your article. I am referring to where you say “6 weeks.” Are babies at higher risk up to 6 weeks or did you mean to write 6 months? They don’t get shots until their 2 month appointment.

  9. I would like to comment than we have not vaccinated for dtap and my children HAVE had whooping cough. for my kids, and I work very hard to feed them healthy, i stay at home, they were breastfed till 2 plus, we take very healthy supplements etc. that said, my children did JUST fine with WC> I would never have known honestly but tested them because they had been exposed and 2 weeks later had the cough cold start. we all did antibiotics. I , my husband( who has never had a vaccine in his life) my 3 year old never got it. my 7 and 9 year old did and they both did fine. I know this isn’t always the case and I know it can be very serious in infants. However I will also say my friend who has 11 children, had her 4 mos old get it when her other kids did. She never had to be hospitalized and besides the gagging and occasional vomit from coughing (WC produces a LOT of mucous) she also did fine. ANY Disease can cause death. the common cold can turn into meninigitis viral( happened to me in college) a mosquito can kill with West Nile Virus ( I know a friend right now who has it and is in a coma)Mersa, superbugs, etc….and there are no vaccines for these things. we are much MUCH more aware and trained with WC to know how to handle it. megadoses of sodium ascorbate helps TREMENDOUSLY!!!!!! I WISH they would consider splitting the dtap, and making just a pertussis vaccine. To combine 3 toxins of bacterias together in ONE vaccine for a baby 8 weeks old just makes me sick. 🙁 I hope with the WC increasing they do this soon as Mama Natural said.

    • Thanks for sharing! Your experience will be helpful for others to read 🙂

    • My family has also not been vaccinated for DTAP, and we have also had whooping cough. In fact we are just getting over it. It is not fun to watch our children sick, and when my children had a “bout” of whooping cough (when the coughing would start), it was not fun at all! My youngest is 2, and he not only had the worst time with whooping cough of all of my 3 kids that were sick, he also ended up with emergency hernia repair surgery, due to the coughing. However, even with all of these “issues” that arose due to whooping cough, God was very good to us. We to also use mega doses of powdered vitamin C. I agree with Sara, I was a life saver. In fact, even though all 3 of my children that were sick (i have 4 children , 1 did not have WC) received the antiobiotic, the only thing it did was make my children not contagious. It did not help with the severetity, or longevitity of the cough. The vitamin C did help with the severetity, in fact to a point that if my children took their vitamin c, they almost never coughed. However, on the days we did not get it taken, the cough was back.
      So having said all of this (sorry for the long post) I would still say that I stand by my choice not to vaccinate, however, it is a very personal decision that every parent must make for themselves, and should not be judged for either the decision to vaccinate, or not vaccinate!

  10. Hello! I want to say, first of all, that I am not a mother. I have not yet experienced first hand the incredible, unstoppable love a mother experiences. I also do not doubt that the decision against vaccination is one made with careful thought and the best interests of the child at heart. That said, I think that not vaccinating is a misguided decision.

    Let me qualify this with some background information. I am a pediatric nurse. I work in an intensive care unit. A friend who plans to delay some vaccinations, and not give some at all, told me about this blog. Focusing on pertussis in “is it serious”, the information you have presented is accurate but INCREDIBLY incomplete. I don’t know what you, or your readers, picture when they read about “persistent coughing spells” that may require oxygen, but to paint a more complete picture. Infants we see (at least 6 this year) with pertussis often breathe incredibly fast , 80 times a minute. This is, on its own, exhausting. They are usually on some method of oxygen delivery. When a coughing spell starts, it is terrifying for families, and undoubtedly painful for the infant. Sometimes the baby maintains its oxygen level through the spell, and it subsides. This repeats over and over, at the worst many times an hour, for weeks. Generally, in my experience, it goes worse than that. Most infants in our unit drop their oxygen during a coughing spell. Many drop their heart rates as well, often to dangerous levels. Watching this happen over and over again for weeks is a nightmare I cannot imagine, and hope I never will experience myself. Worse still, when the infant with pertussis is working so hard, for so long, they start to tire out. We up the flow of oxygen to try to reduce their workload, and the percentage of oxygen to lift their levels. Sometimes we have to intubate patients and ventilate them, and if things get to bad, look up ECMO. Just because our interventions save many of these babies does not take away the harrowing experience, and sometimes lifelong effects. This is NOT an attempt to terrify you into vaccines, whatever you may think. I am aware that I see the sickest of the sick, that many babies with pertussis do not see my unit. But the world, by and large, does not see the suffering of these babies and their parents. I am a cynic, I am highly skeptical of drug companies and was so of vaccines before I started this job. That kind of terrifying journey is not one I want to risk, however. I think being fully informed means knowing the risks. Not just the words hospital and oxygen, but what the course of this deadly illness can really mean for a baby.

    If your baby stays at home, literally never leaves the house, it sounds likely it will never contract pertussis before the age of six moths, and if it gets it later will fare ok. But all those stay at home babies grow into ranging around the town kids, teenagers, and adults. You may someday have another infant, who will come into contact with your older, unvaccinated children. You leave the house, your partner leaves the house. With the number of unvaccinated people of all ages walking around this world, we are damaging the herd immunity, and putting those too young or sick to receive vaccines at risk. It is your decision, and I don’t think I will change any minds here. I am not saying you are a bad parent, or a bad person. I am just scared. Because someday I will be a parent, and for 2 months my little baby will be without a pertussis vaccine, and I will be counting on my tdap booster, and that herd immunity that is being steadily chipped away. I don’t want my baby to see where I work because of those who don’t vaccinate.

    • I completely agree with you that Pertussis can be a very serious and heartbreaking illness. And that “Well, it isn’t that serious” isn’t a good reason to not vaccinate. Pertussis is scary and painful and I would love it if we could eradicate it with a safe vaccine.

      Having said that, I would like Anne, and everyone else, to consider a few things.

      1. The pertussis vaccine does not prevent transmission. So you can’t blame your child (or any child) getting whooping cough on people who don’t vaccinate. Because even if they did vaccinate, the vaccine is only capable of preventing you from getting sick, not infecting other people. Even if you are fully vaccinated you can still be a carrier of whooping cough because the vaccinate doesn’t not prevent transmission. At all. Also, if you think the vaccines work so well, wouldn’t your vaccinated kid be protected either way?

      2. A previous commenter mentioned a pertussis outbreak in Washington and tried to blame that on low vaccination rates. In reality, a recent in depth study of the 2010 whooping cough outbreak found that fully vaccinated children between the ages of 8 and 12 were most likely to get it. http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/03/13/cid.cis287

      3. The biggest manufacturer of DTaP (the P is for Pertussis) is GlaxoSmithKline. GlaxoSmithKline has NEVER STUDIED the duration of immunity of Pertussis protection. And a recent large scale study found that the vaccine is only effective for about 3 years. I know that many in the health care field get boosters for Pertussis regularly, but no one else does. So unless your husband and your friends and everyone at your kids school and your sister and your babysitter are all getting boosters every 3 years, they are JUST as responsible as those who don’t vaccinate at all. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/03/us-whoopingcough-idUSBRE8320TM20120403

      4. Even if everyone in the whole country was fully vaccinated and getting boosters every three years: THE VACCINE IS ONLY 70 – 80 percent effective! That stat is from the CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00048610.htm

      I fully support of the autonomy of parents. It is your life, and your kids and I fully respect and support your decision to fully vaccinate, selectively vaccinate, or not vaccinate at all. Your job, your kids’ exposure, your beliefs and many other things make each family’s decision about vaccines unique. But blaming people who don’t vaccinate for your vaccinated child getting a VPD (vaccine preventable disease) is rude and grossly uninformed. And all the scary imagery in the world of how terrible pertussis can be is not an effective argument for why you should vaccinate. If the vaccine was 100% effective, prevented transmission, AND lasted longer than 3 years… there would be a ridiculously small number of people who didn’t vaccinate. But this is not the case and so you need to educate yourself and those around you and then make the best choice for your family without judging anyone else or thinking they are crazy for not vaccinating. As I hope I have demonstrated, there is a growing body of scientific data to back up the decision to avoid vaccines.

      • Alissa,

        Well said! Bravo…

      • Just like you don’t appreciate being judged for not vaccinating, people who vaccinate don’t appreciate being called uneducated because we choose to vaccinate. Respect is a two way street. Also, no one is saying that the pertussis vaccine prevents the disease. It works like the chicken pox vaccine. It lessens the effect if do contract pertussis.

  11. I think you are an incredibly dangerous person. You have no medical training and should NOT under any circumstances be giving your “opinion” on whether to vaccinate. I wish I could say do what you want with your own kids, but unfortunately in this instance what you decide to do will affect others. That said I can’t control how you raise your children. But you should not be giving other parents advice. Even if you present it as even handedly as possible, it is still irresponsible. Stick to talking about harmless things like non-toxic laundry detergent and organic yogurt. Leave the medical advice and information to people who spent years studying and researching the issue. By the way, it’s amazing how Washington State -arguably with one of the most “crunchy” and natural loving populations, is also having a record spike in Whooping Cough and 9 babies have already died this year. And significantly higher than anywhere else in the country. Interesting huh?

    • Hey Jennifer, this is a very hostile comment and I, one who has spent many hours researching the topic of vaccinations, resent it. Genevive has just as much right to post her opinions on the subject as you do to comment on them. I assume that you are either not a mother of that you do vaccinate your children. People who do not vaccinate their kids do not do so lightly. Of course we all want what is best for our children and if some parents believe that what is best is not to vaccinate or to limit vaccinations, then so be it. Every single person that I have met that does not vaccinate their children have extensively researched and spent hours deciding what is right to do for their children. It is incorrect to assume we have not consulted medical professionals who have researched such topics. I think your comment is not very constructive in adding to the discussion and frankly also quite annoying. Your arguments have been heard before and will not change the opinions of those who are really trying to understand the topic and do what we think is best for our children.

    • I believe she has every right to speak her opinion as you do yours. I believe YOUR dangerous, promoting cancer, chemical, filled with mercury shots for newborns.

    • In my research I have found studies that continue to say that this vaccine does not help with transmission. In fact it scares me because when someone who is vaccinated gets pertussis it could just seem like a cough. But in fact it is pertussis and because they are vaccinated it does not become full blown. Then these people are coughing all over and those who are too young to be vaccinated now have pertussis. KWIM?

      Pertussis also appears to be cyclical. with outbreaks every 4-5 years, that has continued even with the vaccine.

      Here is a link explaining more about it, with lots of other links to other studies : )


  12. Maria Masala, I agree with you! Look at all the drug and medical device recalls and class action lawsuits on product deemed “safe.”

    I think a lot of people also encourage parents and caregivers to get the DTaP…but there is this occurence called shedding – which can be “shed” onto the baby…hence the further outbreak.

  13. What convinced us to not vaccinate at all was reading that the vaccines are not as effective as we’ve been led to believe all our lives, and how in reality improved living conditions are what caused illnesses to diminish. The supposed protection that vaccines provide is not lifelong, and, like with antibiotics, there is an interaction between the viruses and the vaccine, making it probable that we area forcing the viruses to evolve into something stronger than what we are vaccining for. Plus, vaccines are note tested beforehand,
    but they are just emitted on the market (like the papillomavirus one these days), and our children become the lab rats. I live in Italy and this is the perspective I’ve bene able to piece together.

  14. Thanks for all the wonderful info. To vaccinate or not to vaccinate is definitely something I have been looking into for my one month old daughter. She is at home and breastfed so I am not too worried about not getting her the TDaP but my husband does work in the school system so I think he will get the vaccination. Even if he does get the vaccine though I am still worried he may pass it (Pertussis specifically) just by contact with his clothing. Lately he has been stripping down and showering as soon as he gets home so he doesn’t pass anything to her but that seems a little overboard. Did you find anything in your research that suggested that parents can pass it to their children in such a way or am I just a crazy first time mom?

  15. just viewed all your vaccine videos and am really impressed! great information sharing with out getting all “what the heck are we giving our kids” … i tend to do this with a smart-alecky tone and really, it gets me no where. my baby is breastfed and stays at home with me, and these things play a huge role in our decision not to vaccinate. even with all the books and research ive done on the vaccines, your short sum-up is so perfect and simple and just plain easier for me to understand! thanks!

    • Thanks for the feedback, Lis! Wonderful to hear. Yes, having a breastfed, stay-at-home baby plays a huge role in the decision to vaccinate or not. Those two factors offer tremendous freedom, really.

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