Diphtheria is a disease caused by a bacterium. It is almost non-existent in Western countries, but still occurs in some developing countries. In the 1990s, there was an epidemic in the former Eastern Bloc countries due to the failure of vaccination campaigns after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The disease is transmitted through coughing. Symptoms include fever, sore throat and listlessness. Sometimes membranes develop in the throat, which can even cause a person to choke.
Tetanus, also known as "lockjaw", is caused by a bacterium mainly found in soil and street dirt. The disease is always fatal without treatment. Symptoms include stiffness near the infected wounds and muscle cramps, often also in the jaw muscles, hence the name jaw clamp. The bacterium is found in all countries, including the Netherlands. The injection you sometimes get at the GP's or hospital emergency room if you have had a wound is the tetanus vaccine. If you are vaccinated, you will not need an injection against tetanus for the next 10 years. If you are vaccinated for DTP, you will avoid getting an injection for tetanus if you get a wound abroad.
Polio is a viral disease transmitted from faeces to the mouth and sometimes through coughing. It is also called infantile paralysis, although most people infected with the polio virus barely notice the disease. Polio still occurs in Africa, South America and Asia. To prevent polio, good hygiene is important: so wash hands after going to the toilet and before eating.
DTP vaccination gives( if you were previously vaccinated in childhood) a protection period of ten years after one vaccination. Those who have never had these vaccinations before are advised to have a full series of three injections administered. It is a safe vaccine. Side effects sometimes include some pain at the injection site and headache and in rare cases, elevation that may last for one to two days. It is best to get the DTP vaccination at least one to two weeks before travelling, but the DTP vaccine can also be given last-minute, even up to the day of departure. In fact, if you have already had the DTP vaccine as a child, you have already built up protection within a few days.