Diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine helps to protect you against diphtheria, tetanus and polio. The vaccine is a booster injection, and one dose provides immediate protection against tetanus, diphtheria and polio for ten years. Tetanus, diphtheria and polio vaccine side effects are uncommon and usually mild, such as headache and fever.
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In the UK, most people are given vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus and polio as part of the National Childhood Immunisation Programme.
The primary UK vaccination course now consists of five doses of diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccines. The doses are given when your child is:
eight weeks old
12 weeks old
16 weeks old
3 years and four months old
14 years old
The first three doses are given as part of the six-in-one vaccine, the fourth dose is given as part of the four-in-one pre-school booster, and a final dose is given as part of the three-in-one teenage booster.
If you are unsure which vaccinations you have previously received, speak to one of our prescribing nurses, who will be able to advise you.
Further boosters are needed if you want continued protection against the diseases or if you have an increased risk of catching one of the diseases, for example when travelling.
The tetanus, diphtheria and polio vaccine lasts ten years and gives immediate protection. After this, another booster is needed to stay protected.
The diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccines that are used in childhood are different, so the amount of time before a further dose is required differs.
Like all medicines and vaccines, the diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine can cause side effects, but most people do not experience any at all.
If you do experience tetanus, diphtheria and polio vaccine side effects, they are very unlikely to be serious.
Less than one in ten people experience mild tetanus, diphtheria and polio vaccine side effects. These include:
pain, redness and swelling near injection site
nausea and vomiting
Less than one in 100 people experience:
If you experience dizziness after the diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine, you should not drive or operate heavy machinery until you feel better.
If your side effects do not improve or if they become worse, you should talk to your doctor.
You may need the diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine if you are travelling to an area of the world where there is a high risk of contracting diphtheria, tetanus or polio. Check if there is a current risk of diphtheria, tetanus or polio in the country you are travelling to.
Moreover, you may also need the vaccine, if you have not had a booster in the last ten years, as diphtheria, tetanus and polio are widespread diseases.
But even though the vaccine may be recommended to most people travelling in risk areas, there are exceptions. You should get advice about whether the diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine is right for you, if you:
are allergic to any of the ingredients of the vaccine
have had a previous allergic reaction to vaccines
are suffering from a severe infection with a fever
have a blood disorder where you bruise easily
have a reduced immune system, for example from HIV
are receiving chemotherapy, radiotherapy or steroids
have had a similar vaccine in the last five years
are pregnant or breastfeeding
are planning to have a baby
You can book a free telephone consultation with one of our prescribing nurses for a personal assessment to clarify whether you should get the diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine before your trip.
If you may be at risk of diphtheria, tetanus or polio, it is recommended that you check whether you need the vaccine, as these diseases can be fatal. For the price of the diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine, see below.
Anne Marie Major, Independent Nurse Prescriber
June 25, 2019