Diphtheria vaccine offers protection against diphtheria infection. This is a serious disease that can quickly lead to breathing problems. It is caused by bacteria that attack the lining of your nose, mouth and throat. It can damage your heart and in severe cases it can lead to death.
Diphtheria is now rare in New Zealand thanks to vaccination. However, there is still a risk that diphtheria could enter New Zealand from overseas. Read more about diphtheria.
Being vaccinated causes your body to produce antibodies against the bacteria that cause diphtheria. This means your body can respond faster and more effectively to prevent an infection. It does this because by first coming across a non-infectious version of the bacteria in the vaccine, it learns to recognise it. When it comes across it again, your body can react much faster and in a more effective way.