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.

Why get vaccinated?

Widespread since 1959 in Belgium, vaccination against diphtheria has dramatically reduced the number of cases. Vaccination is the only way to prevent diphtheria.

For the latest recommendations on vaccination, visit the Superior Health Council website.

DID YOU KNOW? Toxigenic strains of Corynebacterium bacteria are still circulating in the world and are therefore still a threat to people whose antibody level is insufficient or who are not vaccinated, for example. Furthermore, in recent years there has been an emergence of C. ulcerans bacteria, in the form of infections transmitted from, amongst others, pets such as cats and dogs.

The importance of booster vaccinations

The immunity conferred by complete vaccination in childhood wanes over time.

It is therefore important to strengthen protection by booster vaccinations. 

Hygiene measures

To prevent a sick person from infecting others, certain hygiene measures must be respected, according to cases and the symptoms:

  • wash hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose or after coughing,
  • cough and sneeze into a disposable tissue or the crook of the elbow
  • ventilate rooms regularly
  • cover wounds
  • clean everything that has come into contact with the sick person, etc.


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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