About the diphtheria vaccine

  • The diphtheria vaccine is combined with several other vaccines, such as, Tetanus-Diphtheria-acellular Pertussis (Tdap), Tetanus Diphtheria Adsorbed (Td), Diphtheria - Tetanus- Acellular Pertussis - Hepatitis B- Polio- Haemophilus Influenza Type b Adsorbed (DTap-HB-IPV-Hib).
  • It is included as part of the routine infant and children’s immunization schedule, usually as a 3 dose series.
  • In combination with other vaccines, diphtheria vaccines require a booster to remind your immune system how to fight against diphtheria.
  • As an adult, you need a Td booster shot every 10 years to remain protected against tetanus and diphtheria. These boosters keep the vaccines you received as a child working.

  • This vaccine is recommended for infants, children, teens and adults to prevent diphtheria.
  • You need the primary series and booster doses to be protected. If you missed your booster dose, your body may not continue to protect itself from diphtheria.


Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Polio, and Haemophilus influenzae (DTaP-HB-IPV-Hib) vaccine

  • This is a combination vaccine which protects infants from Diphtheria, Tetanus, Acellular Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Polio, and Haemophilus Influenza Type b Adsorbed (DTaP- HB- IPV- Hib)
  • This vaccine is given as a series of 3 doses to infants at 2 months, 4 months and 6 months of age. 


Booster dose at 18 months of age: Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, Haemophilus (DTaP-IPV-Hib) vaccine

  • This vaccine is given as a booster dose to infants at 18 months of age, after the 3 dose primary series is complete.


Booster dose at 4 to 6 years of age: Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Polio (Tdap-IPV) vaccine

  • This vaccine is given as a booster dose to children  4 to 6 years of age who have already been vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio at a younger age. 


Grade 9 booster: Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine

  • This vaccine is given as a booster dose for all Grade 9 students who have already been immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis at a younger age. 
  • All pregnant women should receive the Tdap vaccine, regardless of previous Tdap immunization history.


Adult booster dose: Tetanus Diphtheria (Td) Adsorbed vaccine

  • This vaccine is a booster dose given to adults every 10 years to remain protected against tetanus and diphtheria.
  • Adults who have not been immunized against pertussis, should receive a one time dose of Tdap.
  • Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection of the nose and throat.
  • Before the introduction of vaccines, diphtheria was a leading cause of death in Canadian children under the age of 5.
  • Diphtheria is easily spread by an infected person coughing, sneezing or by touching an open sore of someone who has diphtheria or an object that belongs to them.
  • Symptoms may include:
    • weakness;
    • sore throat;
    • mild fever; and
    • swollen glands in the neck.
  • A thick, gray or black membrane may form in the nose or throat, leading to difficulty breathing and swallowing.
  • Infection can cause serious complications, including breathing problems, heart failure and paralysis.
  • Open sores or ulcers may develop if the bacteria infect the skin.
  • Diphtheria infection is first treated with an antitoxin followed by antibiotics. However, the best protection against diphtheria is vaccination.
  • Even with treatment about 1 in 10 people who get diphtheria die.
  • This vaccine is safe and very effective.
  • Vaccination is the best way to protect against diphtheria and its complications.
  • The diphtheria vaccine is combined with other vaccines to protect you or your child against other infections with fewer shots.
  • When you or your child get vaccinated, you help protect the spread to others too.
  • This vaccine is free in the Yukon for those who need it.
  • Most children and adults have no reactions to the vaccine.
  • For those that do, the most common reaction is swelling and redness, with or without tenderness around the injection site.
  • A few people may develop fever, headaches or muscle pain. These reactions are mild, and generally last one or two days. If this is the case with you or your child, you may choose to give/take a fever medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Some infants may experience drowsiness, irritability or loss of appetite following their vaccination.
  • Side effects of the immunization are easily relieved by applying a cold or damp compress to the site and administering acetaminophen or ibuprofen for temperatures 38.5°C or higher.
  • See your health care provider if your symptoms are severe or last longer than 48 hours.
  • It’s important to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting any vaccination because there is a rare possibility of developing a severe allergic reaction which is treatable at the clinic. This happens to fewer than 1 in 1 million people. If it happens after you leave the clinic, call 911 or the local emergency number. If you or your child experiences any serious or unexpected reactions, contact your physician and report all severe reactions to one of the nurses at your local Health Centre.

Find out how to get immunized