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What questions should I ask my doctor about the Pertussis vaccine?


NVIC’s If You Vaccinate, Ask 8! Webpage downloadable brochure suggests asking eight questions before you make a vaccination decision for yourself, or for your child. If you review these questions before your appointment, you will be better prepared to ask your doctor questions.  Also make sure that the nurse or doctor gives you the relevant Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) for the vaccine or vaccines you are considering well ahead of time to allow you to review it before you or your child gets vaccinated. Copies of VIS for each vaccine are also available on the CDC's website and there is a link to the VIS for DTaP, Tdap and Multi vaccines on NVIC's Pertussis disease and vaccine “Quick Facts” page.

The pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine is included as a component in “combination” shots that may include tetanus and diphtheria (DPT, DTaP, Tdap) or polio, hepatitis B, and/or Haemophilus Influenza B (Hib). Check with the person who will give the shot containing pertussis vaccine to make sure which vaccine(s) you or your child are being given.

It is also a good idea to read the vaccine manufacturer product insert that can be obtained from your doctor or public health clinic because federal law requires drug companies marketing vaccines to include certain kinds of vaccine benefit, risk and use information in product information inserts that may not be available in other published information. Vaccine product inserts are located on the Food and Drug Administration’s website. A review of the vaccine product insert to determine whether any contraindications and/or precautions to vaccination exists is also important. More information on contraindications and precautions to vaccination can be found here.

Other questions that may be useful to discuss with your doctor before getting the pertussis (DTaP/Tdap) vaccine are: 

  • If other vaccines in addition to DTaP/Tdap vaccine are scheduled for my child at this office visit, am I allowed to modify the schedule so fewer vaccines are given at once?
  • What should I do if my child has a high fever or appears very ill after vaccination?
  • What other kinds of reaction symptoms should I call to report after DTaP/Tdap vaccination?
  • If the DTaP/Tdap vaccine doesn’t protect my child, do I have any other options for preventing pertussis infection?

Under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, doctors and all vaccine providers are legally required to give you vaccine benefit and risk information before vaccination; record serious health problems following vaccination in the permanent medical record; keep a permanent record of all vaccines given, including the manufacturer’s name and lot number; and report serious health problems, injuries and deaths that follow vaccination to VAERS.

Remember, if you choose to vaccinate, always keep a written record of exactly which shots/vaccines you or your child have received, including the manufacturer’s name and vaccine lot number. Write down and describe in detail any serious health problems that develop after vaccination, and keep vaccination records in a file you can access easily.  

It also is important to be able to recognize a vaccine reaction and seek immediate medical attention if the reaction appears serious, as well as know how to make a vaccine reaction report to federal health officials at the Vaccine Adverse Reporting System (VAERS). NVIC’s Report Vaccine Reactions—It’s the Law webpage can help you file a vaccine reaction report yourself to VAERS if your doctor fails or refuses to make a report.

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Pertussis and the Pertussis vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents , which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.


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