Td/IPV vaccine

The Td/IPV immunisation provides complete protection against tetanus, diphtheria and polio.

The Td/IPV vaccine completes the five-dose course that provides complete protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and polio (with Inactivated Polio Vaccine). The vaccine is usually given between 13 and 18 years of age.

Questions and answers:

What is tetanus?

Tetanus is a painful disease affecting the nervous system that can lead to muscle spasms, cause breathing problems and even kill. It is caused when germs found in soil and manure get into the body through open cuts or burns. Tetanus cannot be passed from person to person.

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What is diphtheria?

Diphtheria is a serious disease that usually begins with a sore throat and can quickly cause breathing problems. It can damage the heart and nervous system, and in severe cases, can kill. Before the diphtheria vaccine was introduced in the UK, there were up to 70,000 cases of diphtheria a year, causing around 5,000 deaths.

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What is polio?

Polio is a virus that attacks the nervous system and can cause permanent paralysis of muscles. If it affects the chest muscles or the brain, polio can kill. Before the polio vaccine was introduced, there were as many as 8,000 cases of polio in the UK in epidemic years. Because of the continued success of the polio vaccination, there have been no cases of natural polio infection in the UK for over 20 years (the last case was in 1984).

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If I was immunised against tetanus, diphtheria and polio as a child, am I still protected?

You may still have some protection, but you need this booster to complete your routine immunisations and give you longer-term protection.

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How many boosters do I need to have?

You need a total of five doses of tetanus, diphtheria and polio vaccines to build up and keep your immunity. You should have:

  • the first three doses as a baby
  • the fourth dose, when you were aged from 3 years 4 months, before you started school
  • the fifth dose between 13 and 18 years of age.

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Will I need more boosters in the future?

You will probably not need further boosters of these vaccines. However, you may need extra doses of some vaccines if you are visiting certain countries. Check with the nurse at your surgery.

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How will I be given the Td/IPV booster?

You will have an injection in your upper arm. Nobody likes injections, but it is very quick. The needles used are small and you should feel only a tiny pinprick. If you are a bit nervous about having the injection, tell the nurse or doctor before you have it.

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Are there any reasons why I should not be immunized against tetanus, diphtheria and polio?

There are very few teenagers who cannot have the Td/IPV vaccine. You should not have the vaccine if you have had:

  • a confirmed anaphylactic reaction to a previous vaccine
  • a confirmed anaphylactic reaction to neomycin, streptomycin or polymyxin B (antibiotics that may be added to vaccines in very tiny amounts).

There are no other medical reasons why these vaccines should not be given. If you are worried, talk to the nurse or doctor.

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What if I am ill on the day of the appointment?

If you have a minor illness without a fever, such as a cold, you should have the immunisation. If you are ill with a fever, delay the immunisation until you have recovered. This is to avoid the fever being associated with the vaccine, or the vaccine increasing the fever you already have.

If you:

  • have a bleeding disorder
  • have convulsions (fits) not associated with fever, you can receive immunisations, but may need additional care, so speak to your doctor or nurse before having the immunisation.

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Are there any possible side effects?

It is common to get some swelling, redness or tenderness where you have the injection. Sometimes a small painless lump develops, but this usually disappears in a few weeks. More serious effects are rare but include fever, headache, dizziness, feeling sick and swollen glands.

If you feel unwell after the immunisation, take paracetamol or ibuprofen. Read the instructions on the bottle carefully and take the correct dose for your age. If necessary, take a second dose four to six hours later. If your temperature is still high after the second dose, speak to your GP or call NHS 24 on 111 (freephone).

Read more about the common side effects of immunisations that might occur in teenagers.

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Last reviewed on 01 November 2016

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