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TETANUS VACCINATION -a patient's guide


An outline of this important vaccination.

TETANUS VACCINE - a patient's guide


  •  Tetanus vaccine protects against tetanus, also known as lockjaw
  • It is normally given as part of childhood immunisations as one injection, which also contains vaccines for diphtheria and whooping cough and polio .(DTaP-IPV)
  • There are vaccines available that protect against just diphtheria and tetanus, and an adult version of tetanus and diphtheria called Td.
  • The vaccine is 95 percent effective
  • The immunisation is given at six weeks, three months, five months, 4 years with a booster at age 11 years.
  • Adults should have a tetanus booster at 45 and 65 years

What is it?

The tetanus vaccine protects against tetanus, also known as lockjaw.

The vaccine is made of modified tetanus toxin, which causes the body to make antibodies to the toxin.

The tetanus vaccine is normally given as one injection, which also protects against diphtheria, pertussis

The one given at 11 years contains a smaller dose of Diptheria  (dTap-IPV)

About 95 percent of people who are vaccinated are protected against tetanus.

The tetanus bug is found in soil and in animals. If a child gets an animal bite or has a cut exposed to soil, they could get tetanus. Seek medical advice if the child has not been immunised.

What are the side effects?

Mild reactions such as soreness or redness at the site of the injection can occur and last a few days. Other reactions are uncommon though some people can get a headache and feel unwell for a short time after the injection.

Rare reactions include nerve damage in the nerves going to the arms or legs, and a severe allergic reaction.

When should the vaccine be given?

Tetanus is normally given with the DTaP-IPV vaccine and is recommended at six weeks, three months, five months and 4 years .

The booster given at age 11 also contains vaccines against diphtheria ,ptusssis and polio.

The booster needed at 45 and 65 is the Td vaccine (also contains booster against diphtheria)

If a child has missed the tetanus vaccination it is likely they will also be unimmunised against diphtheria, whooping cough and Hib. Talk to your doctor or practice nurse about immunisation.

Children over seven can receive the Td (tetanus diphtheria) vaccine.

Where to get more information?

Your doctor, practice nurse or plunket nurse will be able to help.

The Immunisation Advisory Centre, Auckland. Ph 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863)

 *This information was provided by the New Zealand Immunisation Advisory Centre.



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