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Review of evidence to inform the New Zealand National Immunisation Schedule, 2019: Diphtheria

Clinically severe diphtheria is caused by toxin-producing (toxigenic) strains of Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Infection with toxigenic diphtheria strains is extremely rare in New Zealand (NZ), but they continue to circulate elsewhere in the world, so there is a risk of importation through international travel particularly from South-East Asia. Globally, immunity in young children has dramatically improved through targeted immunisation programmes, and as a result, from 1998 to 2000 reported diphtheria cases decreased by more than 90% globally. However, diphtheria remains a substantial cause of morbidity and mortality in countries with incomplete or disrupted childhood immunisation programmes. Around 14% of children worldwide are not fully immunised against diphtheria and all countries have variable-sized pockets of unvaccinated children. This is a review of literature published between January 2015 and July 2019 focussing on questions relevant to diphtheria immunisation in NZ. The evidence presented has not been formally graded as in a systematic review, and cost effectiveness of pneumococcal vaccines is not included.

Author 
The Immunisation Advisory Centre
Date 
September 2019
Type of Research 
Year 
2019
Publication Date 
Monday, November 25, 2019

Last updated: Nov 2019