How to Treat Tetanus Shot Reactions


A tetanus shot is a vaccination to protect against a potentially deadly infectious disease. Children receive booster shots (called Dtap or Tdap) for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis at well-baby checkups throughout their first year. Children and adults may need additional tetanus boosters every 10 years to protect against tetanus. Some people suffer adverse reactions after the shots.

Things You'll Need

  • Cold compress
  • Antihistamine
  • Fever-reducing medication
  • Apply a cold compress to the vaccination site to reduce pain and swelling. The CDC reports that localized redness, swelling, soreness and itching are common reactions to the tetanus shot.

  • Take over-the-counter medications, including antihistamines and ibuprofen, to relieve itching and fever that may be associated with the tetanus vaccination. The National Institutes of Health states that about 1 percent of adults will develop a low-grade fever after having a tetanus shot. Approximately 1 to 4 percent of children experience a fever in the range of 100 to 102 degrees F.

  • Rest if you experience fatigue, nausea or vomiting after receiving a tetanus shot. The National Institutes of Health explains that these reactions are considered mild and usually do not require professional medical care. Treat as you would a cold or the flu with rest, fluids and light meals until you feel better.

  • Seek immediate medical attention for reactions that signify anaphylaxis, or an allergic reaction to the vaccination. The Immunization Action Coalition describes anaphylaxis as the development of wheezing, swelling of the face and lips, hives, breathing difficulties or falling into unconsciousness.

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