Diphtheria vaccination is currently administered in the course of a 5 or 6 fold vaccination or together with tetanus. The vaccine is detoxified diphtheria toxin. Like the tetanus toxin it is bound to aluminum hydroxide. According to manufacturer and combination with other vaccinations thimerosal and phenoxyethanol, etc. is added.
The vaccine for babies contains considerably more toxins as their immune system has not matured yet and more toxin is necessary to create supposed antigens against the diphtheria toxin. If the child is older than one year of age a low-dose vaccine can be used.
It should be pointed out here that the human body can develop a tolerance to toxins but cannot develop immunity. Otherwise people would be immune to all of the toxins we ingest in our food every day and even high doses of metals could be fought off. But this does not apply. Due to the fact that the diphtheria toxin is a poison the formation of antibodies that are to protect the body from „poisoning“ is more than questionable.
Efficacy studies on diphtheria vaccinations have not been performed yet. ( Plotkin Orenstein, Vaccines, Saunders Press, 3rd ed 1999; Kollaritsch H., Leitfaden für Schutzimpfungen, Springer 2000). The efficacy is based on the fact that since the introduction of vaccinations the number of cases has gone down dramatically. However, the number of cases had already been going down before vaccinations were introduced.
The vaccine is no protection against diphtheria bacteria but is only a protection against the toxin which is created by the bacteria. People who have been vaccinated can therefore also be carriers of the diphtheria bacteria.
The effectiveness of the vaccine, however, is debated. Repeatedly there have been diphtheria epidemics in populations that have a high vaccination rate. A high antibody titer cannot be used as proof for a protection.
Adverse effects, vaccine complications and vaccine damages of diphtheria vaccination
In addition to local reactions (pain, redness and swelling at the injection site), there is fever, sore throat, difficulties swallowing; then there are more severe vaccine reactions. The literature describes the following: diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system, including paralysis and respiratory paralysis (GBS), thrombocytopenia, allergic diseases of the kidneys and cramps. The diphtheria toxin can also cause problems of the heart such as enlargement, or inflammation (Helle EPJ, et al, AM Clin RES; 10:280-287, 1977).In individual cases there have been allergic toxic impairments of the vessels of the skin and bleeding of the mucous membrane. .(Quast, U. Impfreaktionen. Hippokrates Verlag (2. Auflage) 1997)
Lastly it cannot be determined which vaccine it is that leads to complications (in combination vaccinations). According to Manssor, problems at the injection site occur five times more frequently when instead of the tetanus vaccination the combination vaccination is administered alone with diphtheria. (Manssor, O. Pillans, P.I. Vaccine adverse events reported in New Zealand 1990-1995. N Z. Med J. 1997, 110(1048): 270-272)
The vaccination may not be administered subcutaneously, as it can cause severe local reactions that include the formation nof cysts, granulomas and sterile abscesses.(Martin Hirte: Impfen: pro und Contra S. 117)
Occasionally there have been overreactions to the diphtheria toxin which occurs at the blood vessels of the nervous system and which can lead to paralysis, cramps or encephalitis (Ehrengut: Neurale Komplikationen nach Diphtherie Schutzimpfung und Impfungen mit Diphtherietoxoid Mischimpfstoffen. Betrachtungen zur Ätiopathogenese(Deutsche medizinische Wochenschrift 1986 juni 13)
The compatibility of the vaccine is as good as the tetanus vaccination. Local reactions are frequent, severe reactions are rare, long-term effects have unfortunately never been investigated. (Martin Hirte: Impfen: pro und Contra S. 119)