High-risk groups

In the past diphtheria was a major cause of death among children. Thanks to widespread vaccination in Belgium since 1959, diphtheria has almost disappeared from our country. But the bacteria are still in circulation and vaccination is the only way to prevent diphtheria.

Groups at risk

Diphtheria can affect all age groups but most often affects people whose antibody levels are insufficient or who are not vaccinated, especially children.  
The risk groups are:

DID YOU KNOW? Alcoholics, the undernourished or those whose immune system is weakened (immunocompromised), are at risk of developing severe forms of diphtheria.


Sciensano performs epidemiological surveillance of diphtheria and other vaccine-preventable diseases. Sciensano centralises and analyses data provided by various partners and also coordinates certain studies or surveillance networks. Accordingly, it can observe the “trends” (figures) for diseases such as diphtheria.

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