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Tetanus vaccine


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Tetanus is commonly known as lockjaw, is a painful condition wherein you cannot move your jaws, accompanied by severe tightening of the muscles. The bacteria(Clostridium tetani) usually occur in soil and enter the body via wounds. And there you need tetanus vaccine to immunize yourself against it.

How does tetanus vaccine work?

The vaccine is a toxoid preparation, containing inactive form of the bacteria. When you are injected, it triggers an immune response to produce antibodies capable of fighting against tetanus toxin. This is how you gain immunity.

Who needs tetanus vaccine?

Everybody needs tetanus vaccine, right from infants to adults. 

  • DTaP-HB-IPV-Hib - a combination vaccine is given to babies of 2, 4 and 6 months of age.
  • DTaP-IPV- Hib- booster dose to 18 months old children
  • DTaP-IPV-  this dose is given to children between 4 to 6 years of age
  • Tdap- is given to children and adolescents through 11-18 years of age. This is the teenage booster.
  • Td (Tetanus, Diphtheria) Booster dose is given to adults every 10 years if they have not been immunized earlier in life.
  • Women must also get a dose of Tdap during pregnancy and so do new mothers who have not been vaccinated.
  • Travellers who had not received tetanus vaccine 

Another important point to note is- if you had a major cut or high risk injury, then your doctor might ask you to get a human tetanus immunoglobulin, irrespective of you had been immunized or not before.

Note: DTaP-HB-IPV-Hib stands for Diphtheria, Hepatitis B, Hib- haemophilus Influenzae B, Pertussis, Polio and Tetanus.


Who should not receive tetanus vaccine?

The immunization programme would be delayed if you are seriously ill i.e. having fever from some infections or a previous dose of vaccine.

How is tetanus vaccine given?

Tetanus vaccine is given intramuscularly. It is injected in the deltoid muscle of the arm. Your doctor might consider giving you in your thigh as well.

What is the dose of tetanus vaccine?

The dosing is determined by your doctor and it varies from one person to another. The amount of medicine that you need for immunity again depends on the strength of the medicine.

What to expect after taking the vaccine?

There will be redness and mild pain at the site of injection. The arm or thigh where the shot was given would pain. You can also run fever which could be mild to high, have headache and experience nausea. These symptoms are quite common and they disappear within 2-3 days.

Are there any side effects of tetanus vaccine?

Major side effects usually do not show up unless, your prior medical condition has not been addressed. Severe allergy, convulsions, swelling of glands, face, neck and eyes, abnormal weakness, and exhaustion are some side effects.

What to consider before getting vaccinated?

Let your doctor know about the following situations: 

  • The wound or injury that you have suffered from
  • Have an allergic disease or are allergic to something
  • Is taking medicines, especially with cyclosporine or chloramphenicol
  • Have bronchitis, respiratory disorder, pneumonia
  • Nervous system disorder, epileptic seizures or congenital diseases
  • Have high fever or any other medical condition
How effective is tetanus vaccine?

If you have received all the shots correctly, then you are protected 100% against tetanus i.e. you should get lifelong immunity after completing the course. The vaccine is absolutely efficient and safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers as well.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: March 14, 2014