Pentacel is a combination vaccine used to prevent a number of potentially serious diseases, including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and Haemophilus influenzae type b. It comes in a series of four injections and is often given as part of a routine childhood vaccination schedule, usually at the ages of 2, 4, 6, and 15 to 18 months.
(Click Pentacel Uses for more information on what the medication is used for, including possible off-label uses.)
Thimerosal Content and Other Concerns
Pentacel does not contain thimerosal (a mercury-containing preservative). Parents who are concerned about exposing their children to thimerosal can be confident that this vaccine has no thimerosal (not even trace amounts). Some parents are concerned about the aluminum content of vaccines; Pentacel does contain aluminum (0.33 mg per dose).
Some parents are concerned about the use of human or animal components in vaccines. Part of this vaccine is grown in a cell line derived from an aborted human fetus. This cell line is grown using calf serum.
Who Makes Pentacel?
Pentacel is made by Sanofi Pasteur, Inc.
How Does It Work?
This vaccine contains several different components, including tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, pertussis antigens, Hib polysaccharides, and an inactivated (killed) polio virus. None of the components of this vaccine are "live," which means that the vaccine cannot cause diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Hib, or polio. This is especially important for polio, since a different polio vaccine (the oral polio vaccine) can, in rare cases, actually cause polio.
Simply stated, the components of this vaccine "trick" the body into thinking it has been exposed to these different infections. The body produces antibodies that will help fight the infections if future exposure occurs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vaccine information statement: multiple vaccines (9/18/08). CDC Web site. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-multi.pdf. Accessed August 17, 2009.
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