Dominican Republic: A total of 56 suspected diphtheria cases were reported between week 1 and 42 in 2021, of which 18 were confirmed (14 by laboratory testing and 4 by epidemiologic investigation), including 12 confirmed deaths. Regarding other cases: 31 of the total reported in 2021 were discarded, one was classified as probable, and 6 remain under investigation.

The WHO Americas Region has seen a steady decline in vaccination coverage against diphtheria since 2010. The coverage rate for the third dose of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP3) vaccine in the Americas Region declined from 94% to 84% between 2010 and 2020. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has also affected epidemiologic and laboratory surveillance systems for vaccine-preventable diseases.

 

Consequences for travelers

A booster vaccination against diphtheria (together with tetanus) is necessary in addition to a basic immunization. The optimal time for the booster vaccination for stays in areas with a diphtheria epidemic is unclear. Travelers to countries with diphtheria outbreaks should receive a booster vaccination if the previous booster vaccination is more than 10 years old, as the diphtheria protection is shorter-lasting than the tetanus protection. For high-risk individuals, such as those on humanitarian missions, a shorter interval (e.g., 5 years) should be considered.

 

References

PAHO, 5.11.2021