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Diphtheria Vaccination

Pediatrician examining a baby

In the United States, there are four vaccines used to prevent diphtheria: DTaP, Tdap, DT, and Td. Each of these vaccines prevents diphtheria and tetanus; DTaP and Tdap also help prevent pertussis (whooping cough). Two of these (DTaP and DT) are given to children younger than 7 years old, while Tdap and Td are given to older children and adults.

Upper-case letters in these abbreviations denote full-strength doses of diphtheria (D) and tetanus (T) toxoids and pertussis (P) vaccine. Lower-case "d" and "p" denote reduced doses of diphtheria and pertussis used in the adolescent and adult formulations. The "a" in DTaP and Tdap stands for "acellular," meaning that the pertussis component contains only parts of the pertussis bacteria instead of the whole cell.

What You Need to Know about Diphtheria Vaccines

Diphtheria Vaccine Resources for Health Care Professionals

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