Travel Vaccines for Diphtheria


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The NHS’ childhood vaccination programme is a fairly comprehensive initiative that effectively protects residents of the UK from a myriad of virulent conditions including diphtheria. Other parts of the world are not quite so fortunate however, and diphtheria remains a major concern in a number of other countries. This is why a vaccination against the condition is offered to people in the UK travelling abroad to locations where diphtheria is prevalent. The vaccine is offered to people who have either not been immunised against diphtheria, or have not had a booster in 10 years.

The Diphtheria vaccine

Diphtheria is a condition that affects the upper respiratory system (the areas around the throat), and is spread by respiratory fluids when coughing or sneezing. The conditions is easily spread by contact with individuals suffering from the disease, which is one of the reasons why a comprehensive immunisation programme that vaccinates against diphtheria has been implemented.

The vaccine itself is part of a three in one injection that also protects against polio and tetanus. The harmful effects of the diphtheria bacteria are actually caused by a small toxin released by the bacterium, and the vaccination involves administering a harmless version of this toxin called a toxoid. Once exposed to the toxoid, your body learns how to work against it, and is ready for any further exposure to the real toxin.

Diphtheria itself is spread by close contact with cattle and products derived from them in countries where the bacteria thrive. The jab is offered if you are going to be spending a lot of time in contact with local people who are exposed to the bacteria regularly.

Arranging the diphtheria vaccine

You can arrange to have the diphtheria vaccination at your GP’s surgery or through a private healthcare service. As the injection is part of a 3 in 1 polio vaccine, you may not have to pay for it as the NHS covers the cost of polio travel vaccines.  

You should arrange the vaccination in advance of your travel plans to save yourself any undue stress or discomfort that some of the side effects of the vaccine may cause. Side effects of this jab are usually very mild, and most people only experience a mild reddening and swelling at the site of injection. That being said, you should allow yourself time to recover and, should you need to, address your doctor about any of your concerns.  


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