Overview

The Td/IPV vaccine completes the 5 dose course that provides long-term protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and polio (with inactivated polio vaccine).

The vaccine's usually given between 13 and 18 years of age. Between S1 and S3, all young people are offered the Td/IPV vaccine by the NHS school health team at secondary school.

What's tetanus?

Tetanus is a painful disease affecting the nervous system that can lead to muscle spasms, cause breathing problems and even kill. It's caused when germs found in soil and manure get into the body through open cuts or burns.

Tetanus can't be passed from person to person.

More about tetanus

What's diphtheria?

Diphtheria's 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.

What's polio?

Polio's 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).

More about polio

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.

How many boosters do I need to have?

You need a total of 5 doses of tetanus, diphtheria and polio vaccines to build up and keep your immunity.

You should have:

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

Will I need more boosters in the future?

You'll probably not need further boosters of these vaccines. However, you may need extra doses of some vaccines if you're visiting certain countries. Check with the nurse at your GP practice.

The vaccine

The Td/IPV vaccine's given as an injection in your upper arm.

What vaccine's used?

The REVAXIS vaccine's routinely used in Scotland.

Are there any reasons why I shouldn't be immunised against tetanus, diphtheria and polio?

There are very few teenagers who can't have the Td/IPV vaccine. You shouldn't have the vaccine if you've had a confirmed anaphylactic reaction to:

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

There are no other medical reasons why this vaccine shouldn't be given. If you're worried, talk to the nurse or GP.

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

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

Speak to your GP or nurse before having the immunisation if you have:

  • a bleeding disorder
  • convulsions (fits) not associated with fever

How do we know the vaccine's safe?

All medicines (including vaccines) are tested for safety and effectiveness by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The vaccine meets the high safety standards required for it to be used in the UK and other European countries. The vaccine has been given to millions of people worldwide.

Once they're in use, the safety of vaccines continues to be monitored by the MHRA.

After the vaccine

After having the vaccine there may be side effects, but these are usually mild.

Side effects

The common side effects of the Td/IPV vaccine are mostly felt around the area of the arm where you've had the injection, and include:

  • soreness
  • swelling
  • redness
  • mild itching

If you experience any of these side effects, they'll wear off after a couple of days.

Less common side effects include:

  • headaches
  • nausea
  • fever (high temperature)

If you feel unwell after the immunisation, take paracetamol or ibuprofen. Read the instructions on the packet carefully and take the correct dose for your age. We don't recommend you take these medicines in advance to prevent a fever from happening.

If you're worried about your child, trust your instincts. Speak to your GP or phone the 111 service.

Phone your GP immediately if, at any time, your child has a temperature of 39°C or above, or has a fit. If your GP practice is closed, phone the 111 service immediately.

Where can I report suspected side effects?

You can report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card Scheme.

This can be done by:

  • visiting the Yellow Card Scheme website
  • phoning the free Yellow Card hotline on 0808 100 3352 (available Monday to Friday, 10.00am to 2.00pm)

Further information

If you’re unsure about anything, or have any questions about the Td/IPV vaccine, phone:

Vaccine Safety Net Member

NHS inform is a proud member of the Vaccine Safety Net.

The Vaccine Safety Net is a global network of websites, evaluated by the World Health Organization, that provides reliable information on vaccine safety.

More about the Vaccine Safety Net

Further information

If you’re unsure about anything, or have any questions about the Td/IPV vaccine, phone:

Immunisation leaflet

NHS Health Scotland have produced a leaflet explaining routine teenage immunisations in Scotland including the Td/IPV vaccine, why it's offered and when it's given.

This leaflet's also available in Easy Read English and other languages - including Polish, Simplified Chinese and Urdu.

A guide to teenage immunisations

Audio leaflet

Also on NHS inform