Diphtheria and tetanus vaccine (DT) for adults

The vaccine gives protection against diphtheria and tetanus.
Vaccine-preventable diseases

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To whom is the DT vaccine administered?

The vaccine is administered in the national vaccination programme as a booster to adults.

It can also be used as a primary vaccine for persons aged 14 or over.

In case of an accident, the patient's vaccination protection can be boosted with the DT vaccine if necessary. For the immunisation of school-age children, the DTaP vaccine should be used. 
DTaP vaccine

Which vaccine is used and what does it contain?

The product used in the national vaccination programme is called diTeBooster. The vaccine does not contain live pathogens.

  • The active substance contains toxoids of diphtheria and tetanus bacteria. Toxoids are inactivated forms of toxins produced by the bacteria.
  • The adjuvant is an aluminium compound.
  • The excipients are salt and purified water.
  • The vaccine contains no preservatives.

Dosage and schedule

The vaccine dose is 0.5 ml.

The booster is administered at the ages of 45 and 65 years, and subsequently every 10 years. 
A DTaP vaccine should be administered to recipients aged 25 years.
DTaP vaccine

What are the contraindications and precautions associated with the vaccine?

Everyone needs protection against tetanus. It is important not to miss this vaccine without a compelling reason.

Postpone an ordinary DT booster if the recipient has a fever or febrile infection. Administering a DT vaccination may sometimes be necessary, for example to a patient with a deep, dirty wound, even if they did have a fever.

What are the benefits of the DT vaccine?

The vaccine prevents tetanus and diphtheria, both of which are serious and life-threatening diseases. Reliable protection can only be afforded by the vaccine, as contracting the disease will not give immunity against tetanus or diphtheria.


Tetanus is a painful disease that leads to convulsions and breathing problems. Every year, on average one person in Finland contracts classic tetanus, usually an older person with inadequate vaccination protection. Without the vaccinations we would continue to see dozens of cases annually. 

People of all ages need protection against tetanus. Herd immunity created by vaccinated people around you will not protect you against tetanus, as tetanus is not an infection spread from person to person. 

The vaccine is also essential because approximately one out of three persons who contract the disease cannot even remember the wound which caused the tetanus infection. Careful cleaning of wounds and removing dead tissue is still important. 

Wounds with soil or sand are a particular risk, as tetanus bacterium spores occur in Finnish soil.


Thanks to vaccinations, diphtheria is very rare. It no longer occurs in Finland, except in persons who have contracted it abroad. In earlier times it was a significant cause of child mortality. 

The diphtheria bacteria multiply in the throat and cause swelling in this area. The swollen epiglottis makes it difficult to breath. The vaccine helps the system defend against the toxin secreted by the diphtheria bacterium, which can damage the heart and kidneys, among other things. 

What are the potential adverse effects of the DT vaccine?

Serious adverse effects, including an anaphylactic reaction, are rare.

The most common adverse effects are local symptoms at the injection site, nausea and a temperature. Other transient generalised symptoms may also occur, including aches and stiffness in the muscles and headaches.

A rash, high temperature and sterile abscess at the injection site are rare.

Local and generalised symptoms are more common if the intervals between boosters are short. This was one reason behind increasing the interval between the doses from 10 to 20 years for working-age recipients.

Local and generalised symptoms are not a contraindication for further vaccinations. Fever and pain medications can be used to treat the symptoms, including ibuprofen and naproxen.

History of the DT vaccine in the national vaccination programme

The DT vaccine was introduced in Finland’s national vaccination programme in 1989. Before this year, separate tetanus and diphtheria vaccinations were in use.