Symptoms of a Bad Reaction From a Tetanus Shot


Vaccines containing tetanus toxoid are given to prevent tetanus, a serious bacterial infection that causes muscle pain and spasms and can result in lockjaw.The vaccines help you develop immunity to the bacteria.

Types of Tetanus Shots

  • Most tetanus shots are combined with diphtheria (D) and/or acellular pertussis (aP), or whooping cough, vaccines. DTaP is given to children ages 7 and younger. A different cocktail of the three vaccines is administered to older patients. These are Tdap and Td.


  • Tdap and Td can be given as booster shots every 10 years to preserve immunity. They can also be given to prevent a wound from being infected.

Side Effects

  • DTaP can cause soreness at the injection site, mild fever, decreased appetite and vomiting, crying for more than three hours, fever higher than 105 degrees or seizures. After Tdap and Td, you may have pain, redness and inflammation; mild fever; or headache. With Tdap you may also have chills, rash, achiness, sore joints, nausea, stomachache, vomiting or diarrhea. Ask your doctor about taking an aspirin-free pain reliever, like Tylenol or Advil and Motrin.

Severe Reactions

  • Severe allergic reactions to tetanus toxoid may occur in fewer than one in a million doses. Symptoms include breathing problems, dizziness, fast pulse, hives and weakness. Other possible symptoms include high fever, behavior changes, severe pain and inflammation at the injection site.


  • If you have ever had a serious allergic reaction to these vaccines, you should avoid them in the future. You cannot get tetanus for the vaccine itself. It's an inactivated toxin.

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