What diphtheria vaccinations are available?

Updated: Jan 18, 2019
  • Author: Bruce M Lo, MD, MBA, CPE, RDMS, FACEP, FAAEM, FACHE; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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The 4 forms of the diphtheria toxoid are as follows: DTaP, Tdap, DT, and Td. The childhood vaccination is called DTaP. Adult vaccination form is Tdap. These toxoid vaccinations are combined with acellular pertussis and tetanus vaccine. [25]

DTap is given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, and 4-6 years. The uppercase D denotes the full strength of tetanus toxoid (7-8 Lf units). [26]

DT does not contain pertussis and is given to children who have had previous adverse reactions to the acellular pertussis incorporated vaccine.

Td is a vaccine for adolescents and adults given as a booster every 10 years or when an exposure has occurred. The lowercase d denotes reduced strength diphtheria toxoid (2.0-2.5 Lf units). It is given to those older than 7 years. [27]

Tdap is recommended for adolescents aged 11-12 years or in place of one Td booster in older adolescents and adults aged 19 years and older. [28] In 2012, the CDC recommended patients 65 years and older receive Tdap if they have not received it previously. Boostrix is Tdap approved for adolescents aged 10 years and older, and Adacel is Tdap approved for those aged 11-64 years. For those 65 and older, the CDC recommends Boostrix. However, either Boostrix or Adacel may be used depending on availability.

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