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bad reaction to DTP vaccine

As a child my son had a bad reaction to the DTP vaccine - he passed out and woke up three hours later screaming shrilly and continued to scream for several hours.  We were advised not to let him have the DTP again.  The next time he got the DT vaccine instead and his arm turned bright red from shoulder to elbow.  The last vaccine he got was the Tetanus alone.  With that one he developed a hard, red, raised lump on his arm about the size of an orange.  That was when he was 15.  My question is, should he continue getting the Tetanus shot?  Is there a chance that his reaction to it will get worse over time?
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1351808 tn?1276904027
Thank you for your question. It is definitely an important concern. Here is a link to the vaccine information sheet from the CDC:


Though your son's doctor would know best, I would characterize your son's reaction is significant enough to make the risks of vaccination not merit the harms. It is important to recognize that Tdap or DTP have three separate vaccines in them:

- Tetanus vaccination protects against a serious infection that can develop from nail punctures or cuts. Immunity lasts 10 years but your son can always get a booster dose in the event of a risky injury, when the benefits of vaccination are greater than in routine vaccination.
- Diphtheria is a rare disease in developed countries and even becoming rare in developing ones. With two doses of vaccines he has likely received sufficient immunity.
- Finally pertussis, which protects against whooping cough. This is the infection most likely to affect your son of the three in his lifetime but also the least life-threatening. Again this shifts the risks and benefits of vaccination.

Hope that helps,
Dr. Nundy
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