Tetanus, diphtheria and polio: everything you need to know.

Cases of tetanus, diphtheria and polio are extremely rare in the UK. This is because children here are routinely vaccinated throughout childhood. However, there are occasions where you might be in need of a top-up booster. 

Here, we explain everything you need to know about the tetanus, diphtheria and polio booster.

What Is Polio?

Polio is transmitted through close contact with infectious people or through contamination of food and drink by faeces of those carrying the disease. 

There are two types of polio:

  • wild polio 
  • vaccine derived polio 

Polio can cause temporary or permanent paralysis and can be life threatening. 

Having said this, many people will successfully fight off polio without ever realising they’re ill. Symptoms of polio include: 

  • fever
  • tummy pains
  • sickness
  • headache
  • aches and pains.

There have been no cases of wild polio in the UK since 1984 and the UK was declared polio free in 2003. But, there have been isolated cases of vaccine-derived polio in London this year. The UK Health Security Agency has concluded that the risk to public health is extremely low. 

What Is Diphtheria?

It’s a highly contagious bacterial infection – affecting the nose and throat and sometimes the skin, and is passed on by close contact or through the coughs and sneezes of those infected. It’s very rare in the UK, partly because of the successful Childhood Vaccination Programme that sees children receive five doses of vaccination in their early and teenage years. 

Diphtheria is more prevalent in Asia, the South Pacific, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. However, places where there are higher instances of this infection may change over time, so our specialists can help advise with up-to-date travel advice.

The symptoms of diphtheria include: 

  • grey/white covering of the throat, nose and tongue
  • sore throat
  • high temperature
  • swollen glands
  • difficulty swallowing or breathing.

What Is Tetanus?

It’s a bacterial infection that enters the body through an open wound or cut. The bacteria that causes tetanus is often found in soil and manure. Tetanus is more prevalent in countries where there isn’t a vaccination programme – and most instances of the infection here are found in newborn babies – whose mothers haven’t been fully vaccinated. 

Having said this, UK children receive five doses of protection against tetanus. But, ten years after the last dose is administered (teenage booster), your resistance wanes and it could be worth getting a top-up. 

If you’ve cut yourself, a medical professional might recommend a tetanus vaccine even if you live in the UK but haven’t had a dose of vaccine for more than ten years. 

What Is The Tetanus, Diphtheria And Polio Booster?

A booster dose is an additional vaccination on top of the five given in childhood. 

Doses of the vaccine contain dead bacteria or dead viruses. It’s a highly effective way of protecting against each type of disease or infection – but immunity wanes over time. Around ten years after the last booster, it might be worth considering a top-up. Our specialist staff will run a thorough risk assessment to determine whether you need a booster dose. 

Doses of vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and polio are given in one shot, quite simply to reduce the number of injections needed. 

Do I Need A Tetanus, Diphtheria And Polio Booster If I Am Travelling Abroad? 

If you’re travelling to a country where there’s a higher instance of tetanus, diphtheria or polio you might benefit from a booster. Some countries in Asia and Africa are endemic with polio, which means you’re at greater risk. If your last booster was more than 10 years ago, another jab could be a good protective measure. Diphtheria is still cause for concern in several countries around the world. 

It’s worth booking an appointment with us – our risk assessment process will help to decide if a tetanus and polio vaccine is right for you. 

Do I Need A Tetanus, Diphtheria and Polio Booster If I Live In The UK But Am Not Planning On Travelling Soon?

You don’t have to be packing a suitcase to think about getting a booster vaccine. If you’re a UK resident and you aren’t sure if you’re fully vaccinated, come and see us. 

Even if you were fully vaccinated in childhood but  your last vaccination was more than ten years ago, your immunity will be diminishing. We can help you decide whether a booster is a good form of health protection for you. We’re experts in these areas of vaccination health, but more importantly, we’re here to keep you safe. Make an appointment and let us help you with any concerns you may have. 

How Long Does a Tetanus, Diphtheria and Polio Vaccine Last?

A booster will be effective immediately and offer you the highest levels of protection. Immunity will last for ten years. After ten years, you’ll still be protected but to a lesser degree. 

Our Vaccination Services

We pride ourselves on being specialists – not generalists. This means travel and travel health is at the forefront of what we do. It’s our mission to know more about travel health and wellbeing than anyone else. 

So, if you’re not sure whether you need a tetanus, diphtheria or polio vaccine, we’re the specialists to ask. 

Equally, if you aren’t certain that you’re up-to-date with your vaccines, we can help with that too. 

Whether you’re globe-trotting or just gardening – we want you to remain safe. 

Book an appointment with us

The London Vaccination Clinic was set up as a nurse-led practice to provide specific advice for those wishing to travel in the safest and most protected way. We love what we do and we love being the best at what we do. That puts you in safe and welcoming hands. 

Book your appointment online – it’s easy. 

Need a question answered? 

Call us on 020 7112 5198. 

Or email us at info@londonvaccinationclinic.co.uk