The Disease

Diphtheria used to be a major cause of childhood illness and death. Through the 1920's about 150,000 people got diphtheria each year in the United States and about 15,000 of them died. The word diphtheria struck fear into the hearts of parents in those days, but today there are only a few cases a year. This change is due largely to our parents and grandparents, who got their children immunized.


The Immunization

Diphtheria vaccine protects children by helping them build immunity to the diphtheria toxin. Diphtheria vaccine (DTaP) also includes protection against tetanus and pertussis.


In 2006, a second pertussis vaccine, Tdap, was added to the schedule for adolescents. It is recommended that adolescents receive this vaccine instead of Td. Adults should also receive a dose of Tdap in place of one Td booster.


AAP Vaccine Recommendations


Quick Facts - What You Need to Know (PDF)

  • Why get vaccinated?

  • Who should get DTaP vaccine and when?

  • Some people should not get DTaP vaccine or should wait

  • What are the risks from DTaP vaccine?

  • What if there is a moderate or severe reaction?


Other Resources


Last Updated: 7/13/2012

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