6 Things To Know Before Getting A Tetanus Shot

If you had injuries in the past, you might already be familiar with what a tetanus shot is all about. A tetanus shot can be a preventive measure against tetanus, especially if a person ends up with a dirty wound or is uncertain when they got a shot in the past. Generally, the doctor can provide a tetanus booster while managing an injury. 

Tetanus is a severe disease due to bacteria, specifically the spores of Clostridium tetani bacteria that can be present in the soil and enter the body via wounds. A typical scenario that can put you at risk is stepping on a nail. Tetanus or lockjaw can trigger the painful tightening of the muscles, usually affecting all parts of the body. Generally, it brings about the locking of the jaw in which a person could no longer open their mouth or swallow. 

When you receive a tetanus shot, it works by exposing you to a small dose of the bacteria, causing the body to establish immunity to the disease. Remember that the vaccine will not treat an active infection already present in the body. Just like other vaccines, a tetanus shot has its share of side effects, but if a person develops an allergic reaction or muscle wasting away after tetanus shot, call a doctor right away. 

If you’re planning on getting a tetanus shot soon, here are some important considerations about the vaccine you need to know. 

  • What Is A Tetanus Shot? 

The tetanus shot protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis by triggering a response in the immune system that prevents the bacteria from spreading if it enters the body. A Td booster is usually given every ten years, but it’ll only protect against tetanus and diphtheria.

  • When Is The Right Time To Get A Tetanus Shot? 

Tetanus shots are routine vaccines recommended for individuals of all ages. Remember that the type of vaccine and dosage that a doctor provides are different for adults and children. 

Generally, the doctor will give diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis shot to a child below seven years of age, usually in a five-dose process, up to four to six years old. Once children reach eleven or twelve years old, they should get the first booster or tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis shot. 

Pregnant women should also get a booster shot during the third trimester of every pregnancy to protect the fetus. For individuals over 19 years old, tetanus and diphtheria vaccine are recommended every ten years. Clostridium tetani if you get an infection. 

  • When Is A Tetanus Shot Necessary? 

If you believe you need a tetanus shot after getting a wound, you must first decide if the object responsible for the injury is clean or dirty before getting proper wound care. 

Some of the scenarios where you need to get a tetanus shot include: 

  • Getting a clean wound but your last tetanus shot was more than ten years ago
  • Sustaining an injury from a contaminated object and your last tetanus shot was more than five years ago
  • You’re not sure if a clean or contaminated instrument was responsible for the wound, while your last tetanus shot was more than five years ago
  • Unable to remember your last tetanus shot
  • Not able to receive the first series of tetanus shots

Call a doctor to schedule one once you decide to get a tetanus shot. 

  • What To Expect When Getting A Tetanus Shot? 

When getting a tetanus shot, you’ll go through a physical examination to assess your overall health. After going through your medical history, including any allergies or previous vaccinations, the doctor will decide if you’re a candidate for the shot. 

Once you’re good to receive the vaccine, the healthcare professional will administer the shot after sterilizing your skin at the injection site. 

6 Things To Know Before Getting A Tetanus Shot
Tetanus vaccine, stethoscope and syringe.
  • What Are The Side Effects? 

Like all medications, vaccines, including a tetanus shot, can bring about side effects. Nevertheless, most are rare, and the symptoms are typically mild. 

Common side effects include discomfort or inflammation at the injection site, tiredness, fever, and vomiting.

Although an allergic reaction is rare, you need to watch out for signs such as hives, high fever, swelling of the face or throat, difficulty breathing, dizziness, rapid heart rate, or weakness. 

Call a doctor immediately if you start to develop deep, aching discomfort and muscle wasting after a shot in the upper arm. As a rare but severe reaction to the tetanus vaccine, it’s likely to manifest around two days to four weeks after receiving the vaccine and might last several months. 

  • What To Do If A Reaction Occurs After A Tetanus Shot? 

If you develop a reaction after getting a tetanus shot, the usual symptoms include swelling, warmth, redness at the injection site, or fever. 

Apply an ice pack over the injection site for 20 minutes, three or four times a day, during the initial 24 to 48 hours. 

You can also ask your doctor if you can use an over-the-counter medication to minimize discomfort and fever, such as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or acetaminophen. 

Final Thoughts 

Tetanus is an infection that can enter via open wounds, bringing about powerful muscle spasms that can be fatal, and there’s no available cure. With the increasing availability of vaccines, tetanus is now a rare condition. Some reported cases only affect individuals who failed to get the vaccines or the elderly with weakened immune systems. 

With this in mind, it’s crucial to complete the schedule of tetanus shots. Getting a tetanus shot is one of the best ways to protect yourself against tetanus or lockjaw.

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