Updated March 2024

Vaccine Protection

When your child receives all of the recommended shots of Pediacel®/Pentacel® this vaccine provides almost 100 per cent protection against diphtheria, tetanus, polio and serious Hib meningitis and 85 per cent protection against whooping cough. Vaccination can also make these diseases milder, particularly whooping cough. Protection against some of the diseases may wear off over time so children need boosters at four to six years of age and 14 to 16 years of age. Individuals need booster doses against tetanus and diphtheria every 10 years after completing the primary series of DTaP-IPV-Hib vaccine.

Vaccine Brands: Pediacel®/Pentacel®

Note: Pentacel vaccine will replace the Pediacel vaccine in 2024.  They are nearly identical and are fully interchangeable. The packaging is different, but they both provide the same protection.  Neither contain latex.

Recommendations for Use

It is recommended that all infants receive Pediacel®/Pentacel® vaccine at two, four, six and 18 months of age. If your child didn’t start the schedule when they were two months old, they can still get this vaccine and receive protection from these diseases. Talk to your doctor. Pediacel®/Pentacel® is not recommended for individuals less than two months of age or to individuals seven years of age or older.

Vaccine Side Effects & Risks

Common side effects include mild redness, swelling and pain for a few days at the area where the needle was given. Some children may have increased crying, fussiness, loss of appetite, fever, less energy. These reactions are mild and last no more than three or four days. Swelling, redness and pain of the entire arm or leg may occur and usually goes away on its own. Nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, generalized body aches and sore or swollen joints may occur however are not as common.

Allergic reactions, (which may include difficulty breathing, wheezing, hives and rash), and neurologic reactions are rare and in some instances severe. Call 911 if you experience a serious allergic reaction. Report severe vaccine reactions to your health care provider.

Do Not Get the Vaccine If You Have:

  • a severe allergy or neurological reaction to a previous dose of a vaccine containing diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and Hib. Signs of severe allergy include hives, swelling of the mouth and throat, wheezing, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, hypotension and shock.
  • an allergic reaction to any part of the vaccines including aluminum hydroxide, polymyxin B, neomycin, and streptomycin
  • a brain disorder within seven days of a previous dose of a pertussis-containing vaccine and no other cause was found (e.g. coma, decreased level of consciousness, prolonged seizures)

Delay Vaccination If You Have:

  • an acute febrile illness, more serious than a cold
  • an unstable neurologic disorder
  • a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, with no other identified cause, within six weeks of receipt of a previous tetanus-toxoid containing vaccine
  • a serious reaction at the injection site following a previous dose of a vaccine containing tetanus and/or diphtheria toxoid-containing vaccine


Diphtheria is a serious bacterial disease of the throat, nose and skin. Infection can cause breathing problems, kidney failure, heart failure, and nerve damage. It is easily spread by coughing and sneezing and direct contact with an infected person. Diphtheria kills up to 10 per cent of people who get the disease. Today, diphtheria is rare due to immunization.


Tetanus or lockjaw is a rare and often fatal bacterial infection that occurs when the tetanus bacteria gets into a deep cut in the skin. Tetanus causes severe cramping of the muscles, particularly in the jaw, neck and abdomen. Tetanus bacteria are found everywhere including soil, dust and animal manure and can survive for long periods in the soil.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Whooping cough can infect people of any age but is most dangerous for babies. Infection can spread from talking, coughing, and sneezing from an infected person. Pertussis may cause violent coughing lasting for weeks. Vomiting, difficulty breathing, seizures and even brain damage may result. Pneumonia may occur in children.


Polio is a disease of the spinal cord that can cause nerve damage and paralyze the muscles used for breathing, talking, eating and walking. It is spread when people drink water or eat food with the polio virus in it. Polio is also spread from person to person or direct contact with contaminated objects or stool. Wild polio virus has been eliminated in Canada due to vaccination. However, poliovirus is still found in other parts of the world and can be re-introduced to Toronto through travel or migration.

Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib)

The Hib bacteria can spread from child to child through talking, coughing, sharing drinks and sneezing. It can be carried in the nose and throat without symptoms in some people. During this time, they can still pass on the bacteria to others. Children under five years of age are most at risk. Bacteria can infect the lining of the brain and spinal cord. It can also cause pneumonia and infection of the blood,  joints, middle ear and lining of the heart. It is not related to influenza.

More information

Call a health care provider, or Health811 to connect to a registered nurse day or night for free, secure and confidential health advice. You can also call Toronto Public Health at 416-336-7600.