Diphtheria vaccine is one of the components in the Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis/Polio vaccine (D.T.iPV)

Diphtheria is a very contagious acute bacterial disease that affects the upper respiratory system and sometimes the skin. The bacteria can be passed from person to person by direct contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze and sometimes via shared articles like clothing or bed linen. When people become infected the diphtheria bacteria produce a toxin (a poison) in the body that can cause a number of symptoms. Common symptoms include weakness, sore throat, low grade fever and swollen glands in the neck. This toxin can also lead to swelling on the heart muscle and in some cases heart failure. In sever cases the illness can cause coma, paralysis and occasionally even death.

Prior to the 1940s, diphtheria was a common disease in the UK. The introduction of immunisation against diphtheria on a national scale during this time resulted in a dramatic fall in the number of notified cases and deaths from the disease. In 1940, more than 61,000 cases with 3,283 deaths were notified in the UK.

Vaccination should be considered for all travellers to epidemic or endemic areas should ensure that they are fully protected according to the UK schedule. Additional doses of vaccines may be required according to the destination and the nature of travel intended. Those who are going to live or work with local people where the disease is common or there has been an outbreak should consider vaccination every 10yrs.