Spain has seen its first case of diphtheria in 28 years, in a six-year-old boy, who had not been vaccinated against the disease, and had fallen very ill as a result.
Diphtheria is a bacterial infection that can be spread via sneezing and/or coughing, and sufferers experience various symptoms including fever, swollen neck glands and a sore throat. Serious complications are a possibility without effective treatment, with 10 per cent of cases resulting in death; the Health Ministry of Spain had quite a tricky job finding the right drug to treat the young patient, due to the fact that the country hadn’t seen a case of the disease for so long.
According to the CDC, the best way to protect against diphtheria is by getting the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis shot (also called the DTaP vaccine). Doctors recommend that all children get the vaccine.
Why should my child get the DTaP shot?
The DTaP shot:
- Protects your child from diphtheria, a potentially serious disease (and also protects against tetanus and whooping cough).
- Prevents your child from developing a thick coating in the back of the nose or throat from diphtheria that can make it hard for him to breathe or swallow.
- Keeps your child from missing school or childcare (and keeps you from missing work to care for your sick child)
Is the DTaP shot safe?
Yes. The DTaP shot is very safe, and it is effective at preventing diphtheria as well as whooping cough and tetanus. Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. Most children who get the DTaP shot have no side effects.
What are the side effects?
Most children don’t have any side effects from the shot. The side effects that do occur are usually mild, like redness, swelling, and pain from the shot, fever, and vomiting. They happen in about 1 out of every 4 children who get the shot.
More serious side effects are rare but can include:
- A fever over 40.5 degrees
- Nonstop crying for 3 hours or more
- Seizures (jerking or twitching of the muscles or staring