Improved study confirms, with complete course during childhood, adults no longer require tetanus, diphtheria booster shots

Based on a recent research published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, adults will not require tetanus or diphtheria booster shots if they have taken the complete course of childhood vaccination series.

The results are further supported by the World Health Organization’s recent recommendations which also states that adults tetanus and diphtheria vaccines require to be given only routinely to adults and if they haven’t received the entire series of shots as children.

For the latest study, Mark Slifka, Ph.D., and his team studied data from millions of people from 31 North American and European countries between 2001 and 2016. The team encountered no significant difference in the disease rates between countries which require adults to get tetanus and diphtheria booster shots and those that don’t.

“To be clear, this study is pro-vaccine,” commented Slifka, a professor at the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine and the Oregon National Primate Research Center. “Everyone should get their series of tetanus and diphtheria shots when they’re children. But once they have done that, our data indicates they should be protected for life.”

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in the U.S. however recommends all adults receive booster shots every 10 years. In contrast, the recent study states fewer vaccinations for adults will save about $1 billion annually in superfluous medical costs.

The study is a reflection on the previous research published by the team in 2016. Earlier the study stated that vaccine produced at least 30 years of immunity, due to which the team recommended to vaccinate adults against these diseases only every 30 years.

“Based on our new data, it turns out we were probably overly conservative back in 2016,” Slifka now says. “Even though it looked like immunity could be maintained for decades, we didn’t have direct evidence back then that this would translate into true protection against disease in the real world.

“However, our new data provides the final piece to the puzzle. We now have evidence showing the childhood vaccination series can provide a lifetime of protection against both tetanus and diphtheria.”