Side-Effects of a Tetanus Shot

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The tetanus shot is an important vaccination, as tetanus can occur unexpectedly in any location and in everyday scenarios, and can be very dangerous. Side effects are unpleasant, including headaches, fevers and stomach pain, but they usually subside within a few days and do not affect everyone who gets the tetanus shot. Severe side effects, including seizures and coma, occur in less than 1 percent of people who get the tetanus shot.

Keep current on vaccinations, including the tetanus shot.
Keep current on vaccinations, including the tetanus shot.

Severe Side Effects of Tetanus Vaccination

Severe side effects include seizures, coma and brain damage. Severe allergic reactions include swelling in the mouth, difficulty breathing and wheezing. People with a severe reaction may collapse and convulse. These side effects are extremely rare.

Allergic reactions could be a side effect to the tetanus vaccination
Allergic reactions could be a side effect to the tetanus vaccination (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Moderate Side Effects of Tetanus Vaccination

Moderate side effects include vomiting, diarrhea and high fever. Fever reactions are usually low, but can occasionally rise above 102 degrees F after receiving a tetanus shot. These side effects are also rare.

Moderate side effects such as fevers can be related to a tetanus shot
Moderate side effects such as fevers can be related to a tetanus shot (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Mild Side Effects of Tetanus Vaccination

Mild side effects include pain, redness and swelling at the site of the injection, which is the most common side effect reported. Other mild side effects include a low fever, headache, nausea, fatigue and muscle pain.

Fatigue and muscle pain is a mild side effect of the tetanus shot
Fatigue and muscle pain is a mild side effect of the tetanus shot (Image: Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Children and the Tetanus Shot

The children's tetanus shot (for children under age 12) is slightly different than the adult tetanus shot because it also includes a diphtheria vaccine, and typically a pertussis vaccine. Diphtheria vaccine and pertussis vaccine side effects are few and are usually similar to the tetanus shot. One added side effect for children that isn't usually present in adults is decreased appetite.

Children under 12 receive a different tetanus shot than adults
Children under 12 receive a different tetanus shot than adults (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Treatment for the Side Effects of Tetanus Vaccination

Treatment for side effects from the tetanus shot depend on the reaction and the severity of the side effect. Stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting usually go away within a day or two and do not indicate a severe allergic reaction. A low fever, muscle pain or swelling at the site of the injection also subsides within a day, but a high fever or any severe reaction requires a visit to a doctor. Largely, side effects from the tetanus shot require no treatment.

See a doctor for side effects lasting more than a few days
See a doctor for side effects lasting more than a few days (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

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