Diphtheria Vaccine

  • Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?

    You should not get the vaccine if you:

    • Have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine
    • Suffer from a brain or nervous system disease within seven days after a previous dose of the vaccine
    • Have had certain conditions after a previous dose of the vaccine, such as coma or a seizure
    • Are moderately or severely ill

    Talk to your doctor if the person getting the vaccine has any nervous system problems or has had Guillain Barre Syndrome. Also talk to your doctor if your child has previously had a very high fever or nonstop crying after a previous dose of the vaccine.

  • What Other Ways Can Diphtheria Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?

    Prevention depends on getting the vaccine and responding quickly to outbreaks.

  • What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?

    Suspected cases of diphtheria need to be reported right away to public health authorities.

    In the event of a suspected or confirmed outbreak, close contacts are at risk. For close contacts, treatment includes:

    • Getting a vaccine dose right away if one is needed
    • Having samples taken for lab tests, taking antibiotics, and being followed closely

  • What Is Diphtheria?

    Diphtheria
    is a highly contagious infection. It can be life-threatening. It is caused by specific bacteria. The germ produces a toxin that can spread from the site of infection to other tissues in the body. Diphtheria usually affects the throat and nose. In serious cases, it may affect the nervous system and heart.

    Diphtheria spreads easily from person to person by coughing or sneezing. People nearby breathe in the infected droplets. In rare cases, they come into direct contact with elements from an infected person’s mouth, nose, throat, or skin.

    Because of a widespread immunization program, diphtheria is now rare in the United States.

  • What Are the Risks Associated With the Diphtheria Vaccine?

    As with any vaccine, there is a small risk of severe reaction, such as a severe allergic reaction. Most people get the vaccine without any problems. The most common reactions are mild.

    Acetaminophen is sometimes given to help prevent pain and fever that may occur after getting a vaccine. In infants, the medication may make the vaccine weak. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking acetaminophen.
    For children who have had a seizure in the past, controlling any fever may be important.

  • What Is the Diphtheria Vaccine?

    The diphtheria vaccine is an inactivated toxin called a toxoid. There are different types of the vaccines to prevent diphtheria, including:


    • DTaP—given to children to protect against diphtheria,
      tetanus, and
      pertussis
    • DT—given to children who cannot receive the pertussis part of the DTaP vaccine
    • Tdap—given to children, adolescents, and adults to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and
      pertussis
    • Td—given to adolescents and adults to protect against tetanus and diphtheria

    The vaccine is injected into the muscle.

  • Who Should Be Vaccinated and When?