Overview

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

If your immunisation session was not possible during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, your health board will be in touch to rearrange your appointment.

If you have left school or are unsure if you have missed any vaccinations, contact your GP to check.

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 by germs found in soil and manure getting into the body through open cuts or burns.

Tetanus can't be passed from person to person.

Learn more about tetanus

What's 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. Diphtheria is passed from person to person through close contact.

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 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. The polio virus is usually spread from person to person or by swallowing contaminated food or water.

Before the polio vaccine was introduced, there were as many as 8,000 cases in the UK during the polio epidemic. Because of the continued success of the polio vaccination, there have been no cases of natural polio infection in the UK for over 30 years (the last case was in 1984).

More about polio

Why should I be vaccinated?

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

You may still have some protection. However, this final dose will provide longer-term protection by boosting the immunisations against diphtheria, tetanus and polio which were first given before the age of 5.

Who is eligible for the vaccine?

All young people are eligible for the vaccination as part of their routine immunisation schedule.

Read more about the routine immunisation schedule

When will I be immunised?

You'll be offered the Td/IPV vaccine when you’re in S3 (around 14 years of age) at school. Your health board will organise the vaccination clinic. You do not need to make an appointment.

Find out more about the vaccinations you'll be offered at school

Find out how to contact your health board regarding your vaccination appointment

If you missed your immunisation appointment

To get the best protection it's important you have all the required doses. If you miss the immunisation session in school, you'll be contacted by your health board to rearrange your appointment.

The most important thing is to have all the required doses as soon as they're offered at school.

Those who are not in school

If you've left school or are educated at home you are also eligible for the Td/IPV vaccine. Please contact your local health board to arrange your appointment.

What to do if you are unsure if you or your child has had all of their doses

Phone your GP surgery to check if you or your child has had all the required doses.

Your GP will check your records and advise if it is clinically appropriate to receive the Td/IPV vaccine.

To arrange a vaccine appointment, contact your local health board.

What type of consent do I need in order to receive the Td/IPV immunisation?

You should have been given a consent form and leaflet by your school. You and your parents, or carer, should discuss the information before agreeing to have the immunisation. Both you and your parents will be asked to sign the consent form and return it to school even if you aren't going to have the vaccine.

We recommend you get agreement from your parent or carer, but it isn't always necessary.

More information on young people's right to consent

Read more about vaccinations for young people

If you, or your parents or carer, have any questions about having the immunisation, speak to your nurse first if you can, or your GP.

Further information and other languages and formats

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

The vaccine

What vaccine is used?

The REVAXIS vaccine is routinely used in Scotland. You can find the ingredients of the Td/IPV vaccine in this patient information leaflet.

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

How many doses of the vaccine do I need?

You'll only need one dose of the vaccine.

Will I need more boosters in the future?

You probably won't need further boosters of these vaccines. However, you may need extra doses of some vaccines if you're visiting certain countries.

Read more about the vaccinations you may need when travelling abroad

How do we know the vaccine is 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 and has been given to millions of people worldwide.

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

Are there any reasons I shouldn't have the vaccine?

Non-urgent advice: Speak to your GP or health professional before having the immunisation if you have:

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

There are very few young people 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 health professional or GP.

What if I'm 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'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.

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.

Remember, never give medicines that contain aspirin to children under 16.

The diseases vaccines protect against are very serious, so vaccination should not be delayed because of concerns about post-vaccination fever.

If you feel unwell at any time after getting immunised, you should contact your GP. If you're worried, trust your instincts. Speak to your GP or phone 111.

Immediate action required: Phone 999 immediately if

  • you or the child has a fit

If you think you or the child is seriously ill, trust your instincts and seek urgent medical advice.

Urgent advice: Phone your GP immediately if, at any time, you or your child:

  • has a temperature of 39°C or above

If your GP practice is closed, phone 111 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 0800 731 6789 (available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

Further information and other languages and formats

More information on what to expect after a vaccine can be found in this leaflet, available in multiple languages and formats:

What to expect after immunisation: young people

Vaccine Safety Net Member

Public Health Scotland is a proud member of the Vaccine Safety Net and partners with NHS inform to provide reliable information on vaccine safety.

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

Last updated:
19 October 2022

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