Tetanus Immunization

Tetanus Immunization

Alternate Names

  • TD booster
  • tetanus vaccination
  • tetanus booster
  • DPT vaccination


A tetanus immunization is a toxoid - an inactivated form of the disease-causing toxin produced by the tetanus bacteria. The toxoid stimulates the body's immune system to make antibodies to fight the tetanus toxin, should the body ever encounter it.

What is the information for this topic?

Tetanus is a disease of the nervous system marked by muscle spasms caused by a toxin produced by a bacteria called Clostridiumtetani. The bacteria that cause tetanus live in the soil and in animal intestines and human feces. Tetanus usually occurs when wounds are contaminated with the bacteria, multiply, and produce a toxin, which affects the nervous system.
The mortality rate from tetanus is about 25% in the United States and 50% worldwide. Since tetanus is a very serious and deadly disease, tetanus vaccines and boosters are strongly recommended to be received on a routine schedule beginning in infancy and continuing through older adulthood.
In childhood, the tetanus immunization is with the diphtheria and pertussis vaccines in the DTaP vaccination. Doses are given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. A booster is given between 15 and 18 months, and again at 5 years and 11-12 years. The vaccine is given by injection usually into the arm or the thigh.
A tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis booster, called Tdap because it has less diphtheria and pertussis antigen than the version given to children, is recommended to be given ten years following the last previous tetanus immunization. At present an individual can receive only one dose of Tdap, but ultimately it will be recommended every 10 years throughout life.
A person who gets a deep puncture wound more than 5 years after the last tetanus booster may be advised to get a tetanus booster.
DTaP and Tdap vaccines can cause fever, irritability, and tenderness at the injection site, though many people do not experience these side effects, and most of those who do find them mild. A healthcare professional may recommend that an individual take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever and soreness. Warm packs can ease the discomfort. Frequent movement of the arm or leg into which the injection was given may help reduce soreness as well.


Shots for Safety, National Institute on Aging, 2000 [hyperLink url="http://www.nih.gov/nia/health/agepages/shots.htm" linkTitle="www.nih.gov/nia/health/agepages/shots.htm"]www.nih.gov/nia/health/agepages/shots.htm[/hyperLink]

Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, D Larson, 1996.

Instructions for Patients, HW Griffith, 1994.

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