3-in-1 teenage booster FAQs

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about the 3-in-1 teenage booster jab. This page covers:

Who should have the vaccination?

The 3-in-1 teenage booster vaccine is routinely offered on the NHS to all young people aged 14 (school year 9).

How is the 3-in-1 teenage booster given?

It's injected into the upper arm.

If I was vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria and polio as a child, am I still protected?

You will have some protection, but this booster vaccination will top up your level of antibodies and help keep you protected for many more years.

Can you get polio from the polio part of this vaccine?

The teenage booster vaccine contains inactivated (killed) polio vaccine, which cannot cause polio.

How many boosters do I need to have?

In total, you need five doses of the tetanus, diphtheria and polio vaccines through your life to build up and maintain your immunity.

The first three doses are received as a baby as the 6-in-1 vaccine, the fourth dose is given around the age of three as a pre-school booster known as the 4-in-1 vaccine, and the fifth and final dose is the teenage 3-in-1 booster given at age 14 (school year 9).

Additional boosters are only usually recommended before travel to certain destinations or after certain types of injuries.

If you think you may have missed any of your doses, talk to your doctor, practice nurse or school nurse.

What are the most common side effects of the teenage 3-in-1 booster?

It's usual to get some swelling and redness at the site of the injection as a side effect of the teenage booster, but this is minor and goes away quickly. A small, painless lump sometimes develops, but it usually disappears in a few weeks.

Are there any people who should not be given the 3-in-1 teenage booster?

There are very few young people who cannot be given the booster.

However, you should not have the 3-in-1 teenage booster jab if you have had an anaphylactic reaction (severe allergic reaction) to a previous dose.

If you are ill with a fever, you should also postpone vaccination until you are better. This is so any symptoms of any existing illness cannot be confused with an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

Should I have any other vaccinations at the same time as the teenage booster?

You will probably have the Men ACWY vaccine at the same time as your 3-in-1 vaccine. It's also a good opportunity to check with the doctor or nurse that all your other vaccinations are up to date – for example, MMR and (for some people) hepatitis B. If not, you can have these vaccines at the same time as the 3-in-1 vaccine.

For more information, see the NHS vaccination schedule.

This NHS leaflet tells you more about immunisations at secondary school (PDF, 314kb).

Can the teenage booster be given with other vaccines?

Yes, the 3-in-1 teenage booster can be given at the same time as other routine childhood vaccinations.

What does the 3-in-1 teenage booster contain?

It's a combined vaccine that contains:

  • purified diphtheria toxoid (low dose)
  • purified tetanus toxoid
  • three types of inactivated (killed) polio virus

The 3-in-1 vaccine does not contain thiomersal, a mercury-based preservative.

Read more about vaccine ingredients.

What should I do if my child is unwell after receiving the teenage booster jab?

A few young people may develop a mild fever after vaccination. If this happens, make sure they have plenty of cool drinks, and you can give them paracetamol or ibuprofen (aspirin must not be given to children under the age of 16).

What is diphtheria?

Diphtheria is a serious bacterial disease that usually begins with a sore throat and can quickly develop to cause problems with breathing. It can damage the heart and nervous system, and can be fatal. Diphtheria can be spread by close contact with an infected person.

What is tetanus?

Tetanus is a painful disease that affects the muscles and can cause severe breathing problems. It's caused by the tetanus toxin released by bacteria found in soil and manure. The bacteria can get into the body through cuts or burns. Tetanus can kill.

What is polio?

Polio is a virus that attacks the nervous system and can permanently paralyse the muscles in the arms and legs. If it affects the chest muscles, it can be fatal.

Page last reviewed: 27/10/2014

Next review due: 27/10/2017


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