Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent diphtheria. 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). Healthcare professionals give DTaP and DT to children younger than seven years old, while older children, teens, and adults get Tdap and Td.
Babies and Children
The current childhood immunization schedule Cdc-pdf[2 pages] for diphtheria includes five doses of DTaP for children younger than seven years old.
Preteens and Teens
The adolescent immunization schedule Cdc-pdf[2 pages] recommends that preteens get a booster dose of Tdap at 11 or 12 years old. Teens who did not get Tdap when they were 11 or 12 years old should get a dose the next time they see their doctor.
Adults should get a dose of Td every 10 years according to the adult immunization schedule Cdc-pdf[2 pages]. For added protection against whooping cough, any adult who never received a dose of Tdap should get one as soon as possible. The dose of Tdap takes the place of one of the Td shots.
Learn more about diphtheria vaccines.