Q. Can DPT vaccine cause neutropenia?

Answered by
Dr. Prakash H. Muddegowda
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Apr 02, 2016 and last reviewed on: Oct 09, 2018

Hi doctor,

My son is 15 years. He got his DTaP vaccine two weeks ago and had CBC 20 days later. All came well except neutrophil count, which came back as 800 and total WBC 2500. We are going to repeat the test tomorrow. Can the vaccine be the cause for the neutropenia? And if so, how long will it take to recover?



Welcome to

Based on your query, my opinion is as follows:

  • I doubt the vaccine could be the cause of neutropenia (neutrophil count less than normal). Though it can take place in some case like Influenza virus vaccine, but with DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) have not been reported.
  • At present, the WBC (white blood cell) count of 2500 is good. We usually call your condition as neutropenia, when the absolute neutrophil count falls below 500.
  • Repeat count should help in confirmation.
  • Reaction to adjuvant in vaccines or if he is on medications, could be the cause.
  • I need to know his previous counts. If they were normal, the counts should return to normal within a week.
  • However, nothing to worry at present as he is doing well. His counts should come back to normal. At present, avoid any risk of infection.

Investigations to be done:

If the count continues to be low compared to previous report before vaccination then bone marrow aspiration or biopsy needs to be done.

Regarding follow up:

Revert back after the investigations to a hematologist online.--->

Thank you doctor,

I wanted to clarify that the total WBC count is 2500. The neutrophils alone 800 and other types of cells are normal. He is healthy and had no illness lately. Please guide.



Welcome back to

Based on your query, my opinion is as follows:

  • Good to know that he is doing well without any recent history of any infections.
  • Neutrophils are produced on a daily basis and have a very short life. They respond mainly to bacterial infections, stress, exercises, etc., and as there is none of these the value of neutrophil is not increase.
  • Even though the overall count appears low with decreased neutrophil count, it is only mild decrease.
  • Unless, the absolute neutrophil count falls below 500, there is nothing to worry about. Only the risk of infection will be the issue.
  • If his previous counts were low then it could be normal for him. A repeat count can confirm the diagnosis.
  • The WBC count of 2500 appears low, however, normal range is based upon population study and there will be many with counts of 2500 and it is normal for many.
  • If the count falls below 500, then bone marrow biopsy will be necessary. Repeat counts tomorrow can help you in confirmation. However, at present, nothing to worry.

Revert back after repeat counts to a hematologist online -->

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