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. From S3, all young people are offered the Td/IPV vaccine by the NHS school health team at secondary school.

The Td/IPV vaccine is normally delivered to young people in S3 at school. If your immunisation session is not possible due to school closures during the coronavirus  (COVID-19) outbreak, your local Health Board will reschedule the immunisation date as soon as possible.

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.

Improving how vaccines are offered in Scotland

To improve how vaccinations are offered to you or your child, you may notice:

  • you're invited to a new location to receive your immunisations instead of your GP practice
  • the health professional giving your immunisations changes

You'll still receive clear information about the location, date and time of your appointment.

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.

Infant paracetamol

Vaccines protect your baby against the risk of very serious infections and should not be delayed.

Fever can be expected after any vaccination.  Fevers are usually mild, so you only need to give a dose of infant paracetamol if your child isn’t comfortable or is unwell.  Read the instructions on the bottle very carefully. 

Fever is more common when the MenB vaccine is given with the other routine vaccines at 8 and 16 weeks.  Infant paracetamol should be given to babies after each of these immunisation appointments.

Public Health Scotland’s booklet What to expect after immunisations: Babies and children up to 5 years has more information.

In infants who do develop a fever after vaccination, the fever tends to peak around 6 hours after vaccination and is nearly always gone completely within 2 days. 

Ibuprofen can be used to treat a fever and other post-vaccination reactions.  Giving ibuprofen at the time of vaccination to prevent a fever is not effective.

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

Information about treating a fever in children.

If an infant still has a fever 48 hours after vaccination or if parents are concerned about their infant’s health at any time, they should seek advice from their GP or NHS 111. 

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

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 immunisations for young people 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, Mandarin (Simplified Chinese) and Arabic.

Vaccines for young people leaflet

Other formats

After immunisation

What to expect after immunisation: Young people

What to expect after immunisation: Young people (BSL)

What to expect after immunisation: Young people (Audio)

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

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