The Dangerous Method
IN DEVELOPING protection, or immunity, against diphtheria by the dangerous method, the child acquires germs by coming in contact with people who have diphtheria or are carries of the germs of diphtheria. The number of germs the child acquires may not in most instances be sufficient to cause diphtheria, but even in a very small number of germs produce small amounts of toxin, which is absorbed from the child's throat and gets into his bloodstream. This circulating toxin which is carried to all parts of the body causes the child's tissues to react and produce antitoxin (a substance which protects him against diphtheria). The repetition of this process over a period of years enables a child to reach adult life with sufficient antitoxin in his blood to protect him against diphtheria. But this method is dangerous because there is no way of telling when the child may get an overwhelming number of germs and develop a severe and dangerous case of real diphtheria- in other words, it is an uncontrolled process.
The Safe Method
THE SAFE method of protecting the child against diphtheria is based upon our knowledge of the process by which immunity may be developed by the dangerous method just described. Instead of letting the germs grow and manufacture toxin in the body of the child, toxin is made by growing the germs in a laboratory. if the toxin thus produced is treated with formaldehyde is loses its harmful properties but still produces immunity (protection) when injected into the body. This product is known as diphtheria toxoid. Two doses of diphtheria toxoid given one month apart will protect in practically all children. It is a wise procedure to give the child the Schick test six months later to find out whether or not he is protected or needs more toxoid inoculations.
How Long Does This Protection Last?
MOST children who have been immunized are protected against diphtheria for the rest of their lives. Very rarely does a child lose this protection.
How Can I Tell Whether My Child Is Protected Against Diphtheria?
YOU can tell whether or not your child is protected against diphtheria by having your physician give him the Schick test six months after the last dose of toxin is given. This is merely a test to see whether or not the child has sufficient antitoxin in his blood to protect him against diphtheria. The Schick test is a simple and harmless test.
No Child need have Diphtheria
Can Be Prevented
FLORIDA STATE BOARD OF HEALTH
State Archives of Florida: Series S908, Box 01, Folder 3
Pamphlet defining the disease diphtheria, its causes, how it's transmitted, how to prevent the disease, and immunization information.