Can adults get diphtheria?
Yes, adults can contract diphtheria and in fact, in Australia it is now more commonly seen in adults than in children. 5
Diphtheria can affect people of all ages. In countries where it is more common, it mostly affects young children. However, in Australia (where we have high vaccination rates due to childhood immunisation programs) approximately 80% of cases from 2018 to 2019 were in adults.12
Your protection against or immunity to diphtheria decreases over time, leaving you unprotected against infection.2 To maintain protection it is recommended that you speak with your healthcare professional about keeping your vaccinations up-to-date.
Sources & Citations
2. Victorian Government. Better Health Channel. Diphtheria. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/diphtheria (accessed 27 February 2020).
5. Australian Government. Department of Health. Diphtheria in Australia, recent trends and future prevention strategies. Available at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/cda-pubs-cdi-2000-cdi2406-cdi2406f.htm (accessed 27 February 2020).
12. Australian Government. Department of Health. National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System. Number of notifications for diphtheria, Australia, by age group and sex in 2016 to 2017. Available at: http://www9.health.gov.au/cda/source/rpt_5.cfm (accessed 27 February 2020).
SPANZ.SAPAS.18.04.0134(1)a - Date of preparation March 2020Show All