All travellers should have completed a primary vaccination course according to the UK schedule.  A booster dose should be given to those who have not received a dose within the previous ten years.


Diphtheria is transmitted through respiratory droplets, personal contact and contaminated clothing or bed linen, for example.

Vaccination schedule

Brand Vaccine information Primary course Booster


  • Inactivated, adsorbed
  • Licensed from six years of age
  • Not indicated
  • Single dose; effective after one month if given within ten years of a completed primary immunisation of tetanus, diphtheria and polio
  • Lasts up to ten years

The information below is based on Public Health England recommendations; individual Summaries of Product Characteristics should be referred to for manufacturer recommendations regarding individual brands. 

Acute illness

If a patient is suffering from an acute illness, immunisation should be postponed until they have recovered. Patients with minor infections without fever or systemic upset do not need to postpone their vaccination schedule.

Administration with other vaccines

Diphtheria vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines such as MMR, MenC and hepatitis B as long as they are administered at different sites.

Immunocompromised patients

Diphtheria vaccine should be considered in patients who are immunocompromised if they are travelling to an area of risk, however, it may not be as effective. Specialist advice may be required.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding

No harmful effects due to diphtheria vaccination during pregnancy or breast-feeding have been reported so it may be given when clinically indicated.