Tetanus Vaccine: Questions and Answers
Are there any adults who should not get the tetanus vaccine?
It is OK to receive the tetanus vaccine during pregnancy. However, you should discuss the risks of the pertussis vaccine with your doctor. If possible, get the Tdap vaccine before you become pregnant. Usually Td is given to pregnant women needing tetanus vaccination and offered after birth in the hospital.
People who have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous tetanus vaccine in the past or have a severe allergy to any component of a vaccine should not get the vaccine.
If you have a history of coma, or seizures within a week following a tetanus vaccine that contains pertussis components, get Td vaccines only. Talk to your doctor if you have a history of epilepsy or other nervous system problems, severe pain or swelling in the past after a previous tetanus vaccine, or a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Wait to get the Tdap vaccine if you have a moderate to severe acute illness.
What are the tetanus vaccine ingredients?
The vaccines are made up of tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis toxins that have been made nontoxic but they still have the ability to create an immune response. These vaccines do not contain live bacteria.
Are there any dangers or side effects associated with the tetanus vaccine?
It's important to know that in general the risk of problems from getting tetanus is much greater than getting a tetanus vaccine. You cannot get tetanus from the tetanus shot. However, sometimes the tetanus vaccine can cause mild side effects. These may include:
- Soreness, redness, or swelling at the site of the injection
- Headache or body aches
A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is also very rare, but can result within minutes of being vaccinated. Symptoms may include:
- Skin flushing, itching, or swelling
- Trouble breathing or other respiratory symptoms
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal cramping
- Dizziness, low blood pressure, a fast heartbeat
If you have any signs of a severe reaction:
- Call the doctor or get to a doctor right away.
- Describe when you had the vaccine and what occurred.
- Have a health care professional report the reaction.