The diphtheria vaccine is used to combat Corynebacterium diptheriae, the biological agent that causes diphtheria. It is a combination of several vaccines, commonly known as the DPT vaccine, and is considered to be an essential medicine for basic health systems around the world. Diphtheria is an illness of the upper respiratory tract, which has been largely eradicated thanks to widespread use of the vaccine.
The diphtheria vaccine is part of a combination vaccine designed to combat diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT). The most common prevention of diphtheria is the medicine Quinvaxem, a combination of five vaccines administered to children in routine well-child pediatric visits.
There are, in fact, four common combination vaccines that prevent diphtheria, along with pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus: DTaP, Tdap, DT and Td. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that children receive five doses of DTaP between the ages of two and six. DT is generally used as a substitute vaccine for children who cannot tolerate the pertussis vaccine.
It is also recommended that individuals receive the Td booster shot every ten years in order to maintain immunization levels. Adolescents generally receive a single dose of Tdap in order to maintain protection against these diseases. Administration of the various diphtheria vaccines has resulted in only two cases of diphtheria begin reported since 2000 in the United States.