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Can adults get diphtheria?

Page last updated 13 January 2022

Yes, adults can contract diphtheria and in fact, in Australia it is now more commonly seen in adults than in children. 

Diphtheria can affect people of all ages. In countries with poor immunisation coverage, it mostly affects young children. However, in Australia and other nations with long-standing immunisation programs like the United States and United Kingdom, there has been an increase in the proportion of adult cases.

Your protection against or immunity to diphtheria decreases over time, leaving you unprotected against infection. To maintain protection it is recommended that you speak with your healthcare professional about keeping your vaccinations up-to-date.


Sources & Citations

1. Victorian Government. Better Health Channel. Diphtheria. Available at: (accessed 24 November 2021).

3. Australian Government. Department of Health. Diphtheria in Australia, recent trends and future prevention strategies. Available at: (accessed 24 November 2021).

10. World Health Organization. Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals. Diphtheria. Available at: (accessed 24 November 2021).

MAT-AU-2102461  Date of preparation January 2022