Overview

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

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.

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. Diptheria 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

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

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

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 probably won't 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 is given as an injection in your upper arm.

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.

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.

Where and when to get it

You'll get the Td/IPV vaccine at school usually at the same time as the MenACWY vaccine.

You’ll be offered the vaccine when you’re in S3 (around 14 years of age) at school. Young people who didn't have the opportunity to get immunised will be contacted by their local health board to rearrange their appointment. 

If you've left school or are unsure if you've missed any vaccinations, contact your 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.

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

  • a bleeding disorder
  • convulsions (fits) not associated with fever
I missed my vaccination, can I still have it?

To get the best protection it's important you have all the required doses. If you miss the vaccination session in school, you'll be recalled to the next one.

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

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.

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 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.

After the vaccine

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

What are the common 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.

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

  • has a temperature of 39°C or above
  • has a fit

If your GP practice is closed, phone 111 immediately.

Further information

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

Other formats

Public Health Scotland has produced the following leaflets explaining routine teenage immunisations in Scotland including the Td/IPV vaccine, why it's offered and when it's given.

These leaflet's are also available in Easy Read English and other languages.

A guide to teenage immunisations leaflet
What to expect after immunisation

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:
11 August 2022

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