Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccination

Latest update: - Authors: Mieke Croughs, Ula Maniewski-Kelner

The diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine forms part of the basic vaccination schedule. In other words, individuals born after 1945 have usually been vaccinated. Children receive the last dose around 14 years of age. A single booster is recommended every 10 years for adults. The initial series consists of 3 vaccinations. 

Vaccination schedule for travellers

  • If you have received the initial series of vaccinations, but have not received a booster in the past 10 years, then re-vaccination is necessary.
  • If you have never been vaccinated against tetanus and/or diphtheria (for example because you were born before 1945 and you have never served in the military), then a complete catch-up schedule is required. This consists of 3 doses: 2 vaccinations at an interval of 4 to 9 weeks (minimum of 2 weeks) and a third dose after 6 to 12 months. The first 2 vaccines are best administered before you travel. 

Period of protection

You will be protected for a period of 10 years after the initial schedule of 3 vaccinations or a booster.

Risk areas

Tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) occur all over the world.

Diphtheria has been virtually eradicated in Western countries, but still occurs in (sub-)tropical countries and some countries in Eastern Europe. 

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