Tetanus shots are a common type of preventative vaccine. Vaccines are a powerful tool for the prevention of disease. Without a tetanus shot, people may be more susceptible to the effects of a tetanus infection. Fortunately, tetanus shots are easy to obtain and they are routinely given to young children. However, children who did not receive the tetanus vaccination may be susceptible to a tetanus infection later in life.
What Is Tetanus?
Tetanus is a bacterial disease that is caused by an infection. When someone is exposed to the tetanus bacteria, severe symptoms can develop. People can be exposed to the tetanus bacteria by making contact with soil, dirty objects or animal manure. If someone experiences a skin puncture, cut or tear, the tetanus bacteria can enter their body.
The tetanus bacteria produce a toxic substance that attacks the human nervous system. This can lead to severe muscle spasms and contractions. In some cases, these spasms can cause a person’s jaws to clamp shut so that it is impossible to open their mouth. This condition is the reason that tetanus is sometimes referred to as “lockjaw”.
How to Prevent Tetanus
Getting a tetanus vaccination is the best way to prevent a tetanus infection later in life. Many children receive tetanus vaccines as part of their primary vaccinations. However, adults who did not receive a tetanus vaccination as a child can see a doctor to get one later. In some cases, it is necessary to get a tetanus booster shot once every 10 years to continue the preventative effects of the vaccination.
Who Can Get a Tetanus Shot?
Nearly everyone is able to get a tetanus shot. However, it’s important to talk to a doctor to make sure that there won’t be any problems with getting this vaccination. Some people should not get a tetanus shot. These people include:
- Anyone with an allergy to tetanus shot
- Anyone with a history of seizures
- Anyone who experienced bad side effects after a previous tetanus shot
Anyone who has experienced these situations should consult with a doctor before getting a tetanus shot.
Tetanus Shot Side Effects
In some cases, the tetanus vaccination may cause side effects. These can include:
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Redness, itchiness or swelling
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms should contact a doctor as soon as possible. Experiencing severe side effects soon after a tetanus vaccination should be followed up with a call to emergency services.
General Tetanus Information
In order to get tetanus, a person usually must get a puncture or cut in their skin. Tetanus is not contagious from person to person and cannot be spread by coughing or sneezing. It is a common belief that tetanus is caused by stepping on a rusty nail. While this is one possible source of tetanus infection, a person can get tetanus from any type of skin puncture or tear, especially when dirt or soil is present.
Although tetanus is a very serious disease, it is fairly uncommon in the United States. The widespread use of tetanus vaccines has made the annual numbers of tetanus cases in the US drop to about 50. However, even though this disease is somewhat rare, a tetanus infection is very serious. Tetanus can be fatal in about 30% of cases.
Anyone who was not vaccinated for tetanus as a child should consult their doctor to ask for information about getting a tetanus shot. The tetanus vaccine is completely safe for anyone who does not have an allergy to the shot. A doctor will be able to help patients determine if they are good candidates for a tetanus shot.
If you need vaccines, visit or call SignatureCare Emergency Center. We have three locations in Montrose, Heights and Mission Bend for your convenience.. Our board-certified physicians will get you taken care of, within the comforts of our fully-stocked facility. Schedule an emergency room appointment with us.