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Pediacel Vaccine

(Pertussis, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio and Haemophilus Influenzae type B Vaccine)

Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against some very serious infections. The Canadian Paediatric Society and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization strongly recommend routine immunization. Pediacel is a five-in-one needle. It protects children against pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus, polio and serious diseases like meningitis caused by the Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) germ.

What is Pertussis? Diphtheria? Tetanus? Polio? Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)?

Pertussis or whooping cough is a serious disease especially in children. Children who get this disease have spells of violent coughing. This cough can cause them to vomit or stop breathing for a short period of time. The cough can last for weeks and make it hard for a child to eat, drink or even breathe. Pertussis can cause serious complications. Pneumonia can occur in more than two out of 10 children with pertussis. It can also cause brain damage and death. These problems happen most often in babies. Pertussis spreads very easily from an infected person to others through coughing or sneezing.

Diphtheria is a serious disease of the nose, throat and skin. It causes sore throat, fever and chills. It can be complicated by breathing problems, heart failure and nerve damage. Diphtheria kills one out of every 10 people who get the disease. It is passed to others through coughing and sneezing.

Tetanus or lockjaw is a serious disease that can happen if dirt with the tetanus germ gets into a cut in the skin. Tetanus germs are found everywhere, usually in soil, dust, and manure. It does not spread from person to person. Tetanus causes cramping of the muscles in the neck, arms, legs and stomach, and painful convulsions which can be severe enough to break bones. Even with early treatment, tetanus kills two out of every 10 people who get it.

Polio is a dangerous disease that people can get from drinking water or eating food with the polio germ in it. This disease can cause nerve damage and paralyze a person for life. It can paralyze muscles use for breathing, talking, eating and walking. It can also cause death.

Hib does not cause influenza even though “influenzae” is part of its name. Hib infections are much more serious. Before the Hib vaccine was used, the Hib germ was a common cause of serious infections in children. More than half of all children with Hib infection developed meningitis. Meningitis is a serious infection of the fluid and lining that cover the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can cause brain damage, learning and developmental problems, deafness, and blindness. One out of 20 children with meningitis will die. Hib germ also causes a serious infection of the throat near the voice box. This infection is called epiglottitis. This can make it difficult for the child to breathe. Hib germ can also cause infection of the lungs (pneumonia) and bone and joint infections. Children under five years are more likely to get Hib disease. Children who attend child care centres are even more likely to catch it. Hib germ spreads to others through coughing and sneezing. Many people carry the Hib germ without any signs or symptoms of disease, but they can still pass it on to others.

How well does the vaccine protect my child?

When Pediacel vaccine is given in the recommended number of shots, it protects 85% of children against pertussis, over 85% of children against diphtheria, over 95% of children against tetanus, 99% of children against polio and around 90% of children against serious Hib infections. It will not prevent meningitis caused by other germs. Vaccination also makes the diseases milder for those who may catch them.

At what age should my child be vaccinated with the vaccine?

Your child should have the first needle of Pediacel at two months of age. Three more needles are needed at four months, six months and 18 months of age.

What if my child misses a needle?

Your child should get the next needle as soon as possible. Your doctor will tell you when to come back for the other needles. If your child did not get the first needle at two months of age, your doctor will recommend a special “catch-up” schedule.

Is the vaccine safe?

Yes. Mild pain, swelling and redness for a few days are common at the spot where the needle was given. Some children get a fever, lose their appetite or are fussy or drowsy for a day or two after the needle. These events are usually mild. Your doctor may suggest that you give your child a medicine called acetaminophen to prevent pain and fever. Since July 1997 only a new acellular pertussis vaccine is used in Canada. Side effects following the acellular vaccine are much less frequent and much less severe than those with the previously used whole cell vaccine. The benefits of this vaccine are much greater than the risks associated with getting the diseases. There is no risk of a pregnant women or anyone else catching any disease from a child who has been vaccinated recently.

When should I call my doctor?

Call your doctor is your child has any of the following within three days of getting the needle:

  • High fever (over 40ºC or 104ºF).
  • Crying for more than three hours.
  • Convulsions or seizures.
  • Very pale colour and serious drowsiness.
  • Hives.
  • Swelling of the face or mouth.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Other serious problems.

Who should not get the vaccine?

The doctor may decide not to give your child’s needle or may give a different vaccine if your child has:

  • A high fever or serious infection worse than a cold.
  • A severe allergy to an antibiotic called neomycin, polymyxin B or any other component.
  • A serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the vaccine.
  • Diagnosis of Guillan-Barre syndrome that has occurred within six weeks of getting vaccine containing tetanus toxoid.

Record of Protection

After your child receives any vaccination, make sure the doctor/nurse updates your copy of the vaccination record card. In addition, please report the vaccination to the Public Health Unit.

For more information, please contact a member of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Team by calling the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit at 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623.

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