A combined vaccination that protects against diphtheria, polio and tetanus is routinely given to all children in the UK. You should ensure you and your children are up-to-date with your routine vaccinations before travelling.

Further booster doses are usually only recommended if you're going to visit parts of the world where diphtheria is widespread and your last vaccination dose was more than 10 years ago.

Diphtheria is more common in parts of the world where fewer people are vaccinated, such as:

  • Africa
  • South Asia
  • The former Soviet Union

Additional doses of the vaccination are given in a single 3-in-1 Td/IPV (tetanus, diphtheria and polio) injection.

Diphtheria vaccination

The most effective way of preventing diphtheria is to ensure all your vaccinations are up to date.

Vaccinations for diphtheria are part of the routine NHS childhood vaccination schedule.

In total, children should receive five doses of the diphtheria vaccination. It's usually combined with other vaccines. For most people, five doses provide a good level of protection for the rest of their life.

Babies

All babies born on or after August 1 2017 are offered vaccination against diphtheria as part of the 6-in-1 vaccine that's given when they're 8, 12 and 16 weeks old. The 6-in-1 vaccine, also known as the DTaP/IPV/Hib/HepB vaccine, protects against:

Pre-school children

A booster vaccine against diphtheria is given as part of the 4-in-1 pre-school booster (also called the DTaP/IPV vaccine) to children who are three years and four months old. The 4-in-1 vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio.

Teenagers

A final booster dose of the diphtheria vaccine is given as part of the 3-in-1 teenage booster (also called the Td/IPV vaccine) to teenagers when they're 14 years old. The 3-in-1 vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus and polio.

Ask at your GP surgery if you're not sure whether your family's vaccinations are up to date.

Travel vaccination against diphtheria

Further diphtheria booster vaccinations may be required if you're going to live or work in parts of the world where diphtheria is widespread. You should have a booster if your last dose was more than 10 years ago.

Regions known to have high rates of diphtheria include:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iraq
  • Laos
  • Nepal
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Philippines
  • Sub-Saharan Africa (particularly Nigeria)
  • Vietnam

However, the areas that are considered to be high risk for any disease can change. For up-to-date travel information, you can check:

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