Year 7 Immunisation for Tetanus, Diphtheria and Whooping Cough (Pertussis) (BOOSTRIX™ Vaccine): Areas without school programmes

For year 7 students and parents without access to school immunisation programmes (applicable only in some South Island areas). An immunisation to boost protection against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis).

Information for students and parents in areas without school immunisation programmes

What are the diseases?


Tetanus is a disease that can enter the body through a cut or a graze. It causes muscles to stiffen and spasm. It may affect the breathing muscles.


Diphtheria affects the throat, making it hard to breathe and swallow. It may also affect the nerves, muscles, heart and skin.

Whooping cough (pertussis)

This disease damages the breathing tubes. Affected children may vomit and find it difficult to breathe when they cough.

What is the immunisation and why is it given?

In year 7 (ages 10 to 12), students are offered a FREE vaccine against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. This vaccine is called Boostrix.

In New Zealand, babies (at six weeks, three and five months old) and young children (four years old) are given vaccines to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. As children get older, this protection starts to wear off so year 7 students need the Boostrix vaccine to boost their protection against the three diseases.

How does the vaccine work?

The vaccine causes the body’s immune system to produce its own protection against the three diseases.

How effective is the vaccine?

After this booster dose, more than 97 percent of people are protected against tetanus and diphtheria and around 84 percent are protected against whooping cough.

Protection against tetanus and diphtheria is expected to last for at least 20 years. Protection against whooping cough is expected to last up to 10 years. However, protection may start to wane (lessen) after 5 years.

How is the vaccine given?

One injection is given in the upper arm.

What happens after the injection?

Possible reactions

As with all immunisations, your child may have a sore arm, with redness, pain and swelling at the injection site. These common side effects may last a day or so.

More severe injection site reactions may occur in around 2 out of every 100 people who receive the vaccine.

Other possible reactions include:

  • redness, swelling, a hard lump, soreness, bruising or itching around the injection site, or a skin rash
  • a fever (feeling hot)
  • loss of appetite, nausea (feeling sick), vomiting
  • general discomfort (feeling unwell, aches and pains).

Serious reactions are rare

Serious immunisation reactions are rare. In very rare cases, the vaccine has been associated with a nerve disorder in the arm (brachial plexus neuropathy).

The serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis is also very rare, and usually occurs within minutes of the vaccine being given. Every vaccinator is trained and able to deal with such a reaction.

You and your child will be asked to stay at the clinic or medical centre for 20 minutes after the immunisation. This is standard practice after any immunisation to ensure that treatment is at hand if an allergic reaction occurs.

Asking questions and reporting concerns

Contact your family doctor or practice nurse if you have any concerns about your child’s health after immunisation.

It is important to report any unexpected side effects after immunisation to your family doctor or practice nurse. If you are unsure about whether a symptom might be related to the vaccine, discuss this with your family doctor or practice nurse.

Health professionals should report reactions that happen after immunisation to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM). You can also report reactions by emailing CARM or using the online reporting form on the CARM website.

For more information on the vaccine, see the Summary Consumer Medicine Information or call the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) on 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).

The National Immunisation Register

The Ministry of Health keeps a record of immunisations on the National Immunisation Register so that authorised health professionals can find out what immunisations have been given. It helps them identify people who are due for immunisations or who have missed out. The privacy section on the back page has more information.

If you do not want your child’s immunisations on the National Immunisation Register, please discuss with your family doctor or practice nurse. The register will still keep your child’s National Health Index (NHI) number, date of birth, district health board and records of earlier immunisations (if any) to keep an accurate count of the population.

Your child’s immunisation history

Contact your family doctor or practice nurse if:

  • your child missed any of the immunisations given to babies and young children
  • you are unsure about which of the immunisations your child has received
  • your child has had an immunisation at your family doctor, after clinic or emergency department since they were 7 years old.

Who should not receive the vaccine?

Your child should not receive Boostrix if they have ever had a severe allergic reaction to anything in the vaccine or any other tetanus, diphtheria and/or whooping cough vaccine. See the Summary Consumer Medicine Information for more information.

If you are unsure, discuss your concerns with your family doctor or practice nurse.

If I would like my child to be immunised, what do I need to do?

Call your family doctor or practice nurse to arrange an appointment for your child to be immunised.

Where can I get more information?

Summary Consumer Medicine Information

Boostrix is a vaccine used for booster vaccinations against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis). The Boostrix vaccine is sometimes called Tdap (tetanus/diphtheria/acellular pertussis).

The active ingredients of Boostrix are non-infectious substances from tetanus and diphtheria bacteria and purified proteins from the pertussis bacteria. The vaccine cannot cause any of these diseases.

Each 0.5 ml dose of Boostrix contains 2.5Lf units of diphtheria toxoid, 5Lf units of tetanus toxoid and the pertussis antigens: 8 micrograms (mcg) of pertussis toxoid, 8 mcg of filamentous haemagglutinin and 2.5 mcg of pertactin.

Each 0.5 ml dose also contains tiny amounts of aluminium (as aluminium hydroxide and aluminium phosphate), 2-phenoxyethanol, sodium chloride and water. These ingredients are all commonly used in other medicines and vaccines.

Your child should not have the vaccine if they have an allergy to Boostrix or to any of its ingredients.

Your child should not have the Boostrix vaccine if they:

  • have had blood clotting problems or problems with the nervous system following earlier immunisation against diphtheria and/or tetanus
  • currently have a severe infection with a high temperature
  • have experienced an inflammation/disease in the brain, which occurred in the seven days following a previous vaccination with a whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine
  • have a neurological disorder that is not stable.

Common side effects may include a local reaction around the injection site, such as soreness, redness, swelling or bruising, and feeling generally unwell (fever, nausea, aches and pains).

Other adverse effects, such as allergic reactions, might rarely occur. These possible adverse effects are listed in the full Consumer Medicine Information and Datasheet available from Medsafe.

If there are any unusual or severe symptoms after receiving Boostrix, please contact your doctor or health care provider immediately.

If your child has any of the following conditions, please discuss the immunisation with your family doctor, practice nurse, or the public health nurse before consenting to it:

  • a bleeding disorder
  • an immune deficiency condition (eg, your child is HIV positive)
  • a brain disease or a disease of the central nervous system, such as epilepsy or a tendency to febrile convulsions (seizures/fits due to a high fever)
  • allergies to any other medicines or substances, such as dyes, foods and preservatives
  • a previous serious reaction after receiving another vaccine containing tetanus, diphtheria and/or pertussis
  • is receiving any other medication or vaccines
  • has never been given a vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria or pertussis or has not completed the full course of vaccinations for tetanus and diphtheria.

Boostrix is a prescription medicine. Medicines have benefits and risks. Talk to your family doctor, practice nurse, or the public health nurse to find out the benefits and risks of this vaccine.

Full Consumer Medicine information is available from Medsafe.

Your rights

The Health and Disability Commissioner’s Code of Rights applies to all consumers using a health or disability service in New Zealand. For more information, visit or call 0800 555 050.


Details of each immunisation given or declined will be recorded on the National Immunisation Register. The National Immunisation Register is a national database, held by the Ministry of Health. The register records immunisations given to New Zealand children and people on special immunisation programmes.

The information on the National Immunisation Register is protected by the Health Information Privacy Code. Only authorised health professionals will see, use, or change it. However, you may see your own information and correct any details; if you would like to do so, contact your public health nurse, doctor or health centre.

Your family doctor or practice nurse will use the information on the National Immunisation Register:

  • to check which immunisations your child has already been given
  • if your child has any health concerns
  • to help assess this immunisation programme and plan future programmes.

Information that does not identify individuals may be used for research purposes or to plan new services.

For more information about privacy and the use of information, see your district health board’s privacy policies. If you have any questions about privacy, you can email or contact the Privacy Commissioner’s free helpline on 0800 803 909.