Diphtheria is a disease caused by bacteria that spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
The bacteria releases a toxin that can cause breathing problems, heart problems, paralysis and death.
Diphtheria kills between 5% and 10% of those infected. An effective vaccine has greatly diminished, but not eliminated the threat of diphtheria.
The diphtheria vaccine is combined with vaccines for tetanus and pertussis and is known as the DTaP or Tdap vaccination.
All children should get five doses of DTaP vaccine, beginning when they are 2 months old.
Older children, teens and adults should receive booster vaccination (Tdap) and after that a Td booster (for tetanus and diphtheria) dose every 10 years.