Diphtheria Vaccination

A picture of a multi-generational family.

Diphtheria is an uncommon but serious infection caused by strains of a bacteria called Corynebacterium diphtheriae that make toxin.

Graphic depicting young children, preteens, and adults, all of which need diphtheria vaccines.

This graphic highlights CDC’s diphtheria vaccination recommendations for young children, preteens, and adults.

Vaccines are the best way to prevent diphtheria

Several vaccines help protect against diphtheria, all of which provide protection against other diseases:

  • DTaP helps protect against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough)
  • DT helps protect against diphtheria and tetanus
  • Tdap helps protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis
  • Td helps protect against tetanus and diphtheria

CDC recommends diphtheria vaccination for people of all ages

The vaccine recommended for someone depends on their age. The graphic on this page gives information, by age, about CDC’s diphtheria vaccine recommendations.

Children who should not get vaccines that contain whooping cough can receive DT for protection against diphtheria and tetanus. Talk to a doctor to learn about what’s best for your specific situation.

Diphtheria vaccines are safe

Most people who get a diphtheria vaccine do not have any serious problems with it. However, side effects can occur. Most side effects are mild, meaning they do not affect daily activities. See the vaccine information statement for each vaccine to learn more about the most common side effects.

Page last reviewed: September 9, 2022