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What is the DTaP vaccine?

The DTaP vaccine is an acellular trivalent vaccine that protects against three serious bacterial diseases that can cause death and disability in children and adults, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends six doses of DTaP vaccine be administered to children by age 12, with the first inoculation at age two months. Adults should receive a DTaP booster every 10 years. Both Pertussis and Diphtheria are highly contagious and spread through airborne water droplets when infected individuals cough or sneeze. Tetanus, on the other hand, is not infectious like the other two but is a bacteria found in dust, soil and manure and causes injury through wound contamination. Because these diseases can cause severe injuries and death, vaccination helps provide protection to both individuals and the community.

  • Diphtheria, which is caused by a toxin emitted by corynebacterium diphtheriae that starts as an infection in the throat, can lead to myocarditis, neuritis, and death. The symptoms include sore throat, swollen glands and a thick membrane that forms on the back of the throat and can become severe enough to cause airway obstruction. Corynebacterium Diphtheriae bacteria produces a toxin that causes damage to the heart (myocarditis), kidneys, and nervous system (neuropathies). Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent diphtheria.
  • Pertussis is a respiratory disease caused by Bordetella Pertussis and can lead to pneumonia, seizures and death. Pertussis is also known as “Whooping Cough” because of the characteristic sound made by infected people when having a coughing spell. The Pertussis vaccine is “acellular” (the “aP” in the name signifies this) and is made of purified components of the Bordetella Pertussis bacteria rather than the entire killed organism. The prior whole cell Pertussis vaccine was associated with high rates of seizures and serious neurological events. However, while the acellular vaccine is safer, it provides a shorter duration of immunity and requires boosters to maintain protection.
  • Tetanus is caused by the bacterium clostridium tetani that makes a toxin that causes muscle stiffness and severe spasms, bone fractures, muscle tears, and dangerous spasms of respiratory muscles that can lead to respiratory failure and death. Once the bacteria releases toxin into the body, there is no way to stop it once it has bonded to nerve endings. Vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent tetanus, and the tetanus vaccine is shown to be highly effective in preventing the disease.

What Injuries Are Associated With the DTaP Vaccine?

Side effects from the DTaP vaccine are usual mild and temporary, and include fever, redness and soreness at the injection site, vasovagal syncope, and fatigue, all of which typically resolve in hours or days on their own.  However, in rare cases, more serious adverse events have been reported; the more serious side effects and time frames for first manifestation for DTaP are listed in the Vaccine Injury Table. They include anaphylaxis, brachial neuritis, shoulder injury related to injection, encephalopathy, and encephalitis (brain injuries) and even death. The adoption of the acellular Pertussis vaccine has significantly reduced the number of encephalitis and encephalopathy (brain injuries) caused by the vaccine.

What Compensation Is Available for a Vaccine Injury?

If your child has suffered a serious vaccine-related injury which has been present for at least six months, you may be entitled to compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Injury must either be listed on the table of vaccine injuries and fit into these specific symptoms and time frames set forth therein, or the petitioner must show through medical evidence that the injury was more likely than not caused by the vaccination. If a petitioner establishes that the vaccine likely caused the injury, compensation can be awarded for medical and rehabilitative expenses, pain and suffering, lost earnings, and a death benefit if there was a fatal event. However, damages for past and future pain and suffering are limited to a maximum amount of $250,000.

Why Contact an Experienced Vaccine Attorney?

Only attorneys admitted to the Court of Federal Claims can present a petition for a Vaccine Injury Compensation claim. Knowledge about the VICP process, the difference between an on-table case and an off-table case, as well as the medical proofs required to prove an off-table claim, can be critical to succeeding in obtaining compensation. The medical issues can be complex and need to be analyzed in order to show the relationship between the vaccine and the injury. Such technical and detailed legal and medical documentation required is best handled by an attorney who has experience in filing claims with the National Vaccine Compensation Program. The program has strict criteria for proving a vaccine injury, and maximizing the potential for compensation requires an experienced attorney.

Our lawyers have extensive experience handling these claims through the NVIC and can guide you through all stages of the legal process. Contact us today for help.