What is a Tetanus Shot?


Tetanus, also called lock jaw, is a serious disease caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. (C. tetani) This anaerobic bacterium (it cannot grow in the presence of oxygen) is found in dirt and animal waste products. It poisons the nervous system, causing severe pain and spasms. The bacterium enters the body through a puncture wound or an open wound. A tetanus shot is the most important step in preventing tetanus.


A tetanus shot is a vaccine given to prevent tetanus, a serious, life-threatening condition. The vaccine comes in a variety of mixes with Diphtheria and Pertussis (whooping cough) and alone as tetanus toxid. These vaccines are prescribed and given by healthcare practitioners at different ages of an infant's development and into adulthood, when booster shots are recommended every 10 years. Anyone encountering a puncture wound or had a wound exposed to soil will be given a booster shot if the last tetanus shot received was less than five years ago.

Tetanus Vaccines

According to the National Network For Immunization Information, a tetanus vaccine is available as: DTaP (Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis) DTaP in combination with Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine DTaP in combination with hepatitis B and inactivated polio vaccines DTaP in combination with Hib, hepatitis B and inactivated polio vaccines Tdap (Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis) DT or Td (in combination with diphtheria vaccine) TT (alone)


According to the National Network for Immunization Information, “Between 40 to 60 cases of tetanus are reported in the United States each year, and 30 percent of those infected with tetanus in the United States die. Death is more likely in newborn infants of unimmunized mothers and patients over 50.”

Recommending Bodies

According to vaccineinformation.org, the “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Family Physicians, (AAFP) and the American College of Physicians (ACP) all recommend this vaccine.”


Tetanus shots are considered close to 100 percent effective in preventing tetanus. Side effects of a tetanus shot may include redness, soreness and swelling at the injection site along with loss of appetite, vomiting and tiredness. A toddler may cry for several hours after receiving a shot due to discomfort and may also have a high fever. Seek immediate medical attention for fevers over 101 degrees Fahrenheit.


If you are very ill, tetanus shots should not be taken until after you have recovered from the illness.Do not take tetanus shots if you have had a prior allergic reaction to a vaccine component or a previous tetanus shot.

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