Diphtheria vaccine

Information about diphtheria vaccines, who it is recommended for, how and where to get vaccinated. If you’re eligible, you can get the diphtheria vaccine for free under the National Immunisation Program.

Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection which can cause obstruction of the airways. The heart and nervous system can also be damaged. It can affect people of any age.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from diphtheria.

Who should get vaccinated against diphtheria

Anyone who wants to protect themselves against diphtheria can talk to their vaccination provider about getting vaccinated.

The Australian Immunisation Handbook recommends diphtheria vaccination for specific groups including:

  • routine vaccination in infants, children and adolescents
  • routine booster vaccination in adults, including those in special risk groups such as
    • laboratory workers
    • travellers to countries where health services are difficult to access
  • vaccination of people who have missed doses of diphtheria-containing vaccine.

Diphtheria combination vaccine is free under the National Immunisation Program for children at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 18 months, 4 years, and adolescents aged 12-13 years through school-based vaccination programs.

Eligible people under 20 years old and refugees and other humanitarian entrants of any age can get a free catch-up vaccination. This is if they did not receive the vaccines in childhood and it is recommended to receive the vaccine.

Diphtheria vaccines should not be given to people who have had:

  • anaphylaxis after a previous dose of any diphtheria vaccine
  • anaphylaxis after any component of a diphtheria containing vaccine.

Read more about Getting vaccinated.

How to get vaccinated against diphtheria

Diphtheria vaccines only come as a combination vaccine that also protects against other diseases such as tetanus and whooping cough.  

Diphtheria vaccines include:

* Indicates National Immunisation Program vaccine.

Your vaccination provider will tell you which vaccine they will give you.

Find product information and consumer medicine information for each available vaccine from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Where to get vaccinated

You can get your vaccine from a range of vaccination providers. Find out where and more about your vaccination visit at getting vaccinated.

Possible side effects of diphtheria vaccination

You may experience minor side effects following vaccination. Most reactions are mild and last no more than a couple of days and you will recover without any problems.

Common side effects of diphtheria vaccines include:

  • pain, redness and swelling at injection site
  • occasionally an injection-site lump (may last many weeks - no treatment needed)
  • mild fever
  • grizzly, unsettled, unhappy and sleepy (baby).

Talk to your vaccination provider about possible side effects of diphtheria vaccines, or if you or your child have possible side effects that worry you.

The Consumer Medicine Information available on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website lists the ingredients and side effects of each vaccine.

Learn more about the possible side effects of vaccination.

Date last updated:

Help us improve health.gov.au

If you would like a response please use the enquiries form instead.