Can I get a diphtheria vaccine for travel?

Are you worried about catching diphtheria while travelling? There is a diphtheria vaccine for travel that you can get if your health advisor thinks you need it.

Seek medical help straight away if you think you or someone you are caring for has diphtheria.

Diphtheria can result in death in 5-10% of cases. It can damage the heart and cause multi-organ failure. Diphtheria occurs when a bacteria in the body is infected by a virus. The virus makes the bacteria produce toxins that stop the patient’s cells from working properly.

Where is there a risk of contracting diphtheria?

Anyone travelling in the developing world where uptake of the diphtheria vaccine is low should check their protection against diphtheria. The regions where diphtheria is a problem are:

Cases of diphtheria are common following natural disasters or during conflict.

How can I protect myself from diphtheria?

Diphtheria used to be one of the most feared childhood illnesses. However, widespread vaccination has made it less of a threat. Many people will be protected from diphtheria under the UK vaccine schedule. But travel health experts recommend a booster every ten years for anyone going to high-risk areas.

The vaccine Revaxis protects adults from diphtheria, tetanus and polio (DTaP) with a single shot and is available at NX Travel Health Clinics.

Revaxis provides good protection against diphtheria, but you still need to take a few steps to optimise your defence against this deadly and highly contagious respiratory infection.

You catch diphtheria from respiratory droplets, which spray out when an infected person coughs or sneezes. You can also catch it from prolonged contact with a diphtheria patient or their clothes – so avoid contact with anyone who has diphtheria if at all possible. If this is not practical (for example, you are travelling to care for a relative) then you should get medical advice as you may need a course of antibiotics.

Consider staying away from crowds if you know a diphtheria outbreak (or, indeed, an outbreak of any respiratory disease) is happening.

Good hand hygiene can help you avoid infection. Although it is not easy to control how other adults cough and sneeze in your presence, set a good example by covering your mouth and nose with your elbow (not your hand) when you sneeze.

What does a case of diphtheria look like?

Diphtheria features a sore throat, with difficulty swallowing and a husky voice. Swollen lymph nodes give the patient a characteristic ‘bull’ neck. Also, a pale membrane may form at the back of the throat and this can cause breathing difficulty. A high fever is common, with a headache and a cough.

Seek medical help straight away if you think you or someone you are caring for has diphtheria.

It takes two to three weeks to treat diphtheria with antibiotics and with drugs to reduce the effects of the toxins created by the diphtheria bacteria infection.

How do I make an appointment for travel jabs near me?

NX Travel Health Clinics can offer same-day vaccinations at our travel clinics in city centre locations.

Where can I find out more about diphtheria?

See NHS Choices’ diphtheria page for reliable, comprehensive information about this dangerous respiratory infection.