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Diptheria vaccine

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Diptheria is caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. It affects the upper respiratory tract of an individual, causing fever, sore throat and difficulty in breathing. Diptheria vaccine is a preventive measure for diphtheria.


What is the mode of action of Dipetheria vaccine?

The vaccine is prepared from the diphtheria toxin which is inactivated with chemicals. This form of the vaccine (toxoid) is injected in the body to trigger an immune response, but not cause the disease.

The diphtheria vaccine is available as combination vaccine with DTaP, Tdap, DT, and Td. 


  • D- Diptheria
  • T- Tetanus
  • P- Pertusis


Who needs diptheria vaccine?

Diptheria vaccine is a part of childhood vaccination schedule.

For babies- It is given to babies who are 2, 4, 6 and 12-23 months old along with the 5 in 1 vaccine (tetanus, pertusis, polio and haemophilus influenza- DTaP/IPV/Hib)

For pre-school children- Booster dose of DTaP/IPV is administered at the age of 4-6 years.

For older children and adolescents - Booster dose of Td (tetanus-diptheria) is given every 10 years. Children between age 11-18 years and adults of 19 years or above must get Td/IPV

For travellers- people who travel to countries with high rates of diphtheria (Africa, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Afghanistan, etc.) must get vaccinated. Even those who had been vaccinated before 10 years should get the shot once again

Workers and laboratory technicians dealing closely with diphtheria patients must also get vaccinated

A dose of Tdap is given to pregnant women between 27 and 36 weeks of their gestation.  


Who cannot take diphtheria vaccine?

  • Patients with history of severe allergic reaction to the vaccine components or any other forms of allergy
  • Encephalopathy patients like prolonged seizure or coma 


How is diptheria vaccine administered?

The vaccine is administered intramuscularly. The preferable sites are the upper arm and thigh.

The injection site of diphtheria vaccine must be different than that of other vaccines administered subsequently.


What is the dose of the vaccine?

For primary immunization in children, high dose of toxoid is used which is >30 IU and low dose i.e. 2 IU of toxoid is used for children > 10 years.


What to expect after taking diphtheria vaccine?

The injection is painful. Your baby will no doubt cry for some time. Pain will be experienced even by adults.

Redness and swelling at the site of the injection is common. A transient nodule would also erupt. Mild fever is common.

Adults might feel dizzy, tired and have headache after being vaccinated.


What to consider before taking diphtheria vaccine?

Before getting the vaccine, you must tell your doctor about your previous history of vaccine or if you have allergy

  • Let your doctor know if you are ill with some disease or having fever
  • Discuss with your doctor if you are suffering from cerebral problems, nervous system disorders, have seizures, etc.


Are there any risks associated with the diphtheria vaccine?

Although the risks are rare, some people have undergone severe anaphylactic (allergic) reaction to the vaccine.

Severe pain in the arm or leg, along with high fever can also occur.


How effective is diphtheria vaccine?

The DTaP vaccine is 95% effective in preventing diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. The effectiveness of the vaccine wears away in 10 years, which is why booster shots are recommended.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: May 27, 2014