DTpa vaccine: why should pregnant women take it? Does it give a reaction?

The dTpa vaccine, or triple acellular bacterial of the adult type , is a vaccine capable of offering protection against 3 diseases: diphtheria , tetanus and whooping cough .

It is part of the vaccination schedule for pregnant women and is essential to ensure the baby’s health. Newborns are the most vulnerable to developing any complications with these diseases.

It should also be recommended for healthcare professionals and anyone living with babies under 2 years of age.

In the following article, we explain how this vaccine works and who should receive it. Check out!


What is the dTpa vaccine?

The dTpa vaccine (triple bacterial acellular vaccine of the adult type) is aimed at children, adolescents, adults and pregnant women who need an immune boost against diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.

Other vaccines offer protection against these diseases, such as DTP and DTPa. However, dTpa is the most suitable for pregnant women. For this reason, in 2014 it entered the Vaccination Calendar for Pregnant Women, as a way to complement the adult double vaccine scheme, which prevents against tetanus and diphtheria.

The application must be made from the 20th week of gestation, in a single dose.

It is a safe way to offer protection to the mother and the baby, who receives indirect immunization.

In adolescents, adults and the elderly, dTpa is recommended especially for protection against whooping cough, to reduce the number of cases of the disease.

In addition, reinforcement in adults and pregnant women is also a way to prevent the transmission of the disease to babies, the group most vulnerable to suffering complications due to the diseases that dTpa prevents.

Thus, the risk of a child contracting one of these diseases becomes very low, enough that he is safe until he is old enough to receive the vaccine.

In general, this vaccine is only contraindicated in cases in which the patient has had severe allergic reactions to previous doses or is allergic to the components of the formula.

What is it for: what does the dTpa vaccine prevent?

The dTpa vaccine serves to protect the population against 3 diseases: pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus.

It is an immunization that works as a reinforcement of DTP or DTPa vaccines (triple infantile bacterial vaccine for children), applied even in childhood.

DTpa is applied even in childhood, in children over 7 years old, in adolescence, adulthood or during pregnancy, to protect the mother and baby.

Understand a little more about these diseases:


Tetanus is a disease caused by a toxin produced by Clostridium tetani , a bacterium found in plants, objects, soil and in the feces of animals and humans.

People are infected by this agent when it invades the organism through animal bites, cuts or wounds on the skin.

When someone is infected, the toxin released by the bacteria begins to affect the central nervous system. Therefore, symptoms such as muscle stiffness and difficulty in swallowing.

It also causes spasms, which can affect the respiratory muscles and pose a risk to the patient’s life by preventing breathing.

Whooping cough

Whooping cough, also called long cough and pertussis, is a contagious disease that affects the respiratory system of patients, especially affecting children under 2 years of age.

Contamination occurs through direct contact with an infected patient, that is, through kissing, touching or contact with droplets eliminated through speech, sneezing and coughing.

When infected, patients manifest symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, sleep disorders and vomiting.

As the disease progresses to more severe cases, it can cause neurological complications, bleeding, dehydration and lung problems.


Diphtheria is a disease caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. It is an infection that causes white-gray lesions on the patient’s nose and throat.

But, despite causing localized injuries, it is a disease that causes general malaise in the patient, manifesting symptoms such as fever , tiredness , sore throat and pallor.

In severe cases, there may be severe swelling in the neck area, enlargement of the lymph nodes (glands of the lymphatic system, present in the neck, groin, armpit etc.) and suffocation (shortness of breath).

The transmission of the disease occurs through contact with nasal secretions from someone infected or through contact with contaminated objects.

How does the baby immunize?

The dTpa vaccine in pregnant women is important for offering indirect immunization to the baby.

Upon receiving this reinforcement, the mother begins to produce antibodies that pass to the fetus while still in the placenta.

When taking the vaccine after the 20th week of pregnancy and not at the end of the pregnancy, it will be better for the production of antibodies and protection of the baby.

That way, the baby will be protected during its first months of life.

This is until you can receive immunization with Pentavalente at 2, 4 and 6 months of life, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and other diseases, such as hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b.

What is the triple bacterial vaccine made of?

The dTpa vaccine is made from toxins, or toxoids, produced by the bacteria that cause tetanus and diphtheria, added to components of the pertussis bacterial capsule.

In the composition of the vaccine, there is also the addition of phenoxyethanol (colorless oily liquid with bactericidal action), sodium chloride, water for injection and aluminum salt.

Because it does not use any live microorganism, as in attenuated vaccines, it is not able to cause diseases.

When is the triple bacterial indicated?

This vaccine is recommended as a booster to the DTPa vaccine (triple bacterial acellular vaccine for children), and can only be applied to children over 3 years of age, adolescents and adults.

It is also a vaccine that is part of the vaccination schedule for pregnant women, who should receive immunization from the 20th week of pregnancy.

Read more : Check out everything about pregnancy month by month

People living with children under the age of 2 should also receive the vaccine, which includes health professionals, caregivers, nannies and family members.

Dosage schedule: when to take dTpa?

There is no well-defined dosing schedule for the dTpa vaccine, as it is used as a booster to DTPa. Therefore, it can be taken in the following situations:

  • Children aged 4 to 5 years: reinforcement;
  • Adolescents, adults and the elderly: reinforcement;
  • Children over the age of 7 years, adults and adolescents who have not received or do not have a record of the previous dose schedule: indicated as immunizing;
  • Pregnant women from the 20th week of pregnancy: reinforcement;
  • Women who did not receive during pregnancy, should still receive in the puerperium phase: reinforcement.

DTpa vaccine in pregnant women


The dTpa vaccine is one of the immunizations planned for women to receive during pregnancy and is present in the National Vaccination Calendar.

It is indispensable, especially when the woman did not receive any dose of the vaccine before becoming pregnant.

In such cases, you should receive 2 doses of the adult double (dT), for tetanus and diphtheria, and 1 dose of the dTpa vaccine.

In the case of women who have already received doses before pregnancy, during pregnancy it is only necessary to boost with 1 dose of dTpa.

In each pregnancy, it is necessary to reinforce the vaccine, even if the woman has already received it in another pregnancy.

For the mother, the vaccine is important so that she remains protected against these diseases and has a healthy pregnancy, preventing a vertical transmission (from the mother to the fetus).

In addition, the baby will have indirect protection during the first months of life, as maternal antibodies pass to the baby while still in the placenta.

Thus, the baby is protected until he can receive the dTp vaccine in pentavalent or hexavalent, when completing 2 months of life.

What time of pregnancy should I take?

Ideally, vaccination should be carried out after the 20th week of pregnancy, as the sooner it occurs, the better the antibody response in the mother’s body and the baby.

However, if immunization is not possible during pregnancy, the woman should still receive it during the puerperium, that is, in the postpartum period.

Should parents take it too?

YEAH ! Not only should pregnant women be concerned about receiving reinforcement against these diseases. Parents also need to receive the dTpa vaccine.

For newborns, these diseases can be lethal, especially pertussis. Therefore, people close to the baby should be vaccinated.

Are there any contraindications?

According to the Brazilian Immunization Society (SBIm), people who have manifested a serious adverse reaction, neurological symptoms or allergy to the components during the application of previous doses should avoid the vaccine.

What are the reactions and side effects of the dTpa vaccine?

It is possible that some adverse reactions will occur after immunization with the dTpa vaccine.

However, these side effects can vary greatly depending on the patient.

In most cases, there are no serious reactions, with only temporary pain, redness and swelling present in the application region.

According to the Brazilian Immunization Society (SBIm), it is possible that the immunizer causes in children aged up to 9 years symptoms such as drowsiness, irritability, redness, pain in the area, swelling and fatigue .

Among children vaccinated in this age group, about 10% have these adverse reactions.

Symptoms such as headache , malaise, lack of appetite, vomiting and fever can also occur in 0.1% of those vaccinated .

Can dTpa be related to microcephaly?

No . There are many myths about vaccines and many of them provoke disbelief in the population.

This makes some people choose not to get vaccinated or to take their children to receive some immunization.

Around the dTpa vaccine and the measles vaccine , for example, there were rumors that the application during pregnancy could be related to cases of microcephaly recorded in the outbreak that occurred in 2016, here in Brazil.

Also read: Minute Investigate: can having a vaccine cause autism?

However, there are no studies that prove that the vaccine can cause complications like these in pregnancy.

According to the Ministry of Health, the dTpa vaccine is a protection for the mother and baby, as it stimulates the production of antibodies and offers indirect immunity for the baby during the first months of life.

It is recommended precisely to avoid health problems and to prevent the transmission of diseases from the mother to the fetus.

Therefore, there is no evidence to confirm a relationship between the vaccine and microcephaly.

Does dTpa vaccine hurt?

Because it is an intramuscular injection (applied into the muscle), the dTpa vaccine can cause pain and discomfort during application .

However, the intensity of the pain can vary widely according to the sensitivity of each person.

It is necessary to pay attention to the adverse reactions that may occur and, if the pain in the area is persistent, see a doctor to investigate what is happening.

But in general, the dTpa vaccine hurts the same way as other vaccines.

Where to take and what are the prices?

For pregnant women, the dTpa vaccine is available at Basic Health Units free of charge , being one of the immunizations present in the National Vaccination Calendar.

Health care professionals or those who work in maternity wards or any newborn care service can also receive the vaccine in this way.

For those who need to receive a booster of the vaccine, it is possible to receive it also in private vaccination clinics, in an amount that can vary a lot.

On average, it costs around R $ 180.

Common questions

How many weeks of gestation should I take dTpa?

The dTpa vaccine is indicated for pregnant women from the 20th week to the 36th week of pregnancy, that is, between the second and third trimester.

The earlier the vaccination is within that period, the better it will be for the production of antibodies and protection of the baby.

Read more: Second trimester of pregnancy: physical changes and development

Is dTpa a vaccine for children?

No , the dTpa vaccine is not an immunization aimed at children.

During the first months of life, the child must complete the dose schedule with pentavalent or hexavalent, thus guaranteeing protection against the diseases that dTpa protects and others.

DTpa is a booster or complement vaccine, which can be applied to children over 7 years old, adolescents, adults and the elderly.

I took dTpa and I have pain in my arm. It’s normal?

-Yeah . The vaccine can cause discomfort and pain at the site after application. However, it is not normal for the pain to be persistent.

Therefore, if the discomfort in the arm continues for more than 2 days, see a doctor, especially if the pain is accompanied by other symptoms.

What is the difference between dTp and dTpa?

The main difference is that dTP is a mandatory vaccine that is part of the basic childhood vaccination calendar of the Ministry of Health, whereas dTpa is considered a booster vaccine.

DTp is part of the dose regimen that the newborn should receive at 2, 4 and 6 months of age, but which is not recommended for children over 7 years old.

DTpa is already recommended for older children, teenagers, adults and the elderly. However, it is especially recommended for pregnant women.

They are also different in that dTpa causes fewer adverse reactions, as it is not done with whole cells, but with proteins from the causative agents.