Diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough combination vaccines
Diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis) combination vaccines help protect you against the following diseases:
- Diphtheria - commonly causes a thick membrane to grow in the throat restricting breathing and the diphtheria toxin can damage the body’s tissues, such as the heart.
- Tetanus - causes stiffness in the muscles of the body, affecting the jaw and breathing muscles, and causes severe muscle spasms.
Whoopingcough (pertussis) - causes episodes of severe coughing, causing difficulty with breathing and a low air supply to the brain during coughing fits.
Combination vaccines available
There are four different combinations currently available. Below is a list of diseases you are protected against for each of the combinations available:
hexa: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Haemophilus influenzaetype b, hepatitis B and polio.
- Infanrix® and Tripacel® diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.
- Infanrix IPV®and Quadracel® diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio.
- Boostrix® and Adacel®: diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (adult formulation)
Combination diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough vaccines are available free through the National Immunisation Program for the following age groups:
- 6 weeks of age, 4 and 6 months of age - Infanrix
- 18 months of age - Infanrix or Tripacel vaccine
- 4 years of age - Infanrix IPV or Quadracel vaccine
- Year 8 students - Boostrix vaccine (through the School Immunisation Program)
- pregnant women in each pregnancy from 20 weeks gestation, with the optimal time between 20 and 32 weeks gestation - Adacel or Boostrix vaccine.
The combination diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough vaccines are also recommended, but may not be free, for all:
- parents after the birth of the newborn if not recently immunised with whooping cough vaccine (Boostrix or Adacel) excludes new mothers who received this vaccine during their pregnancy
- grandparents, other family members, or any carers in close contact with those too young or too unwell to be immunised (Boostrix or Adacel) (see Occupations at risk of
vaccine preventablediseases page)
How the vaccine is given
The combination vaccine is given as an injection into the thigh if under 12 months of age, or the top of the arm from 12 months of age.
Possible side effects
Like any medications, the diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough combination vaccines can have some minor and short lasting side effects.
Common side effects may include:
low gradefever of 37 to 38 degrees Celsius
- pain, redness and swelling where you were immunised
- feeling unwell
- joint pain
- babies receiving the vaccine may become grizzly and unsettled
Booster doses of
Although very rare, other side effects may include:
- a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine
- seizure in young children due to high fever
- babies may experience a limp and unresponsive episode (hypotonic-hypo responsive episode) which can occur one to 48 hours after vaccination.
Any unexpected event following immunisation should be reported to SA Health.
Reducing the side effects
Many of the common side effects can be reduced by:
- drinking extra fluids
- taking paracetamol as per the instructions on the packet/bottle
- not overdressing if hot.
Where to get immunised
To receive the vaccine contact your doctor, local council, community health centre, midwife or Aboriginal health centre to arrange an appointment.
For further information on immunisation providers, see the Immunisation services page.