Tetanus vaccine: know if there are reactions and side effects

Tetanus is an extremely dangerous disease, which can cause death in a few days.

It is the result of infection with the bacterium Clostridium tetani , which produces a toxin that affects the central nervous system and can cause paralysis and very strong involuntary muscle contractions.

This bacterium is present all over the world and can be found easily.

Any cut can be an opening for it to enter your body. To protect yourself from tetanus, you can get the tetanus vaccine.

Read more!


What is the tetanus vaccine?

The tetanus vaccine is a technique for immunizing people against tetanus, a bacterial disease. It is made from the tetanus toxin, which by chemical methods is transformed into the tetanus toxoid.

The toxin is chemically altered so that it no longer has the toxic effect, but allows the body to acquire resistance in the same way.

When someone is infected with tetanus, the toxin causes a lot of damage and the body cannot remain immune before death. In the case of toxoid, the organism can withstand greater tranquility.

This vaccine, which is intramuscular and confers immunity to 95% of patients, is given in 5 different doses during childhood and a sixth dose is applied in adolescence.

Thereafter, the vaccine is recommended once every 10 years to keep the body immune.

Since the third application, most children are already immune, but extra doses may be necessary.

What is the tetanus vaccine for?

The tetanus vaccine serves to prevent tetanus, a nervous disease caused by the tetanus toxin, produced by the bacterium Clostridium tetani .

The toxin affects the central nervous system, causing severe muscle contractions that can kill by affecting the respiratory and cardiac systems.

In some cases, these painful contractions are capable of breaking bones.

The bacterium is very common and it often comes into contact with open wounds, so the vaccine is very important.

Tetanus is a disease that has no guaranteed cure. In some cases it is possible to eliminate the bacteria, which ends with the production of the toxin, but what is already in the body must be metabolized.

The disease is very destructive to the organism and, once contracted, there are few therapeutic resources. Prevention through vaccination prevents people from contracting tetanus and consequent risks to life.

What vaccines are available against tetanus?

The tetanus vaccine is one, but it is available in some combinations.

For children, normally, the vaccine that protects against tetanus is DTP , also called triple bacterial. It is not a combination of 3 vaccines: diphtheria , tetanus and pertussis.

When you are an adult, the vaccine that protects from tetanus is dT or ATT .

DT is a combination of the tetanus vaccine and the diphtheria vaccine. ATT is the only tetanus vaccine.

But the component that makes a person immune to tetanus is the same in all 3: the tetanus toxoid .

How does the tetanus vaccine work in the body?

The tetanus toxoid which is a chemically altered version of the tetanus toxin is introduced to the body and the immune system into action.

The substance does not cause the harmful effects of the toxin, so the application is safe, but the immune system acts in the same way.

Immune cells attack the toxoid and create appropriate antibodies to destroy them.

Copies of these antibodies are kept by the immune system, which will be ready to produce them on a large scale if the toxin appears in the body in the future, neutralizing contamination.

When to get the tetanus vaccine?

There are 2 situations in which the tetanus vaccine is taken. One is for the vaccination schedule and the other, when there is a risk of contamination and the person is not immunized.

Read more: Why should I vaccinate my child against HPV?

Vaccination schedule

In the vaccine schedule, anti-tetanus is present in the triple bacterial vaccine, DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis).

It is taken in 5 doses during the child’s first 5 years of life.

The first dose is given at 2 months of age. The second is at 4 months and the third is at 6 months.

After that, the child is considered to be immunized, but 2 more booster vaccinations are performed.

The first of the reinforcements is given at 15 months of age, shortly after the child turns 1 year old. The second reinforcement must be applied at 4 years of age.

The triple vaccine should not be used in people over 6 years of age. Anti-tetanus alone, or only in combination with the diphtheria vaccine, can and should be renewed every 10 years.

After injuries and cuts

When the person is not immunized and suffers an injury or cut, there is a risk that the tetanus bacteria will contaminate the wound.

It is present in the soil and is very common, so when this happens, tetanus vaccination should be done immediately.

In case of doubts about the patient’s immunization, the vaccine is applied as a precaution.

How long does the tetanus vaccine last?

The effect of the tetanus vaccine is approximately 10 years, but when injuries or cuts occur, it is reapplied if the patient has taken it more than 5 years ago. After that, it is recommended that the vaccine be renewed so that the patient remains immune to this disease, which is very serious.

You can renew the vaccine at any health center.

Vaccination against tetanus is also applied in the treatment of deep cuts that present a high risk of contamination when the patient’s immunity status is not known.

Price of tetanus vaccine

It is not possible to buy the tetanus vaccine. You can receive it free of charge at the Basic Health Units (UBS, the posts).

However, when there is assistance in private hospitals, it can be charged, and costs around R $ 100 per dose, which may vary.

Where to find the tetanus vaccine?

You can find the tetanus vaccine in hospitals and health clinics. It is available through SUS, both for people with injuries who do not know if they are immune and for people who need immunity renewal.

Side effects of tetanus vaccine: does it have a reaction?

The side effects of the tetanus vaccine are weak and are usually only local, with redness and pain in the injection area.

However, some other effects may be present in certain cases. Are they:

  • Low fever;
  • Headache;
  • Sleep;
  • Weakness;
  • Tiredness;
  • Irritation;
  • Vomiting.

Rest is recommended after application of the tetanus vaccine.


The tetanus vaccine is contraindicated for people who are allergic to any component of the formula, in addition to cases where the patient has a fever or infections.

This restriction exists because if the patient’s immune system is dealing with an infection, placing the toxoid in the body will force the immune cells to share the effort, which can make it difficult to cure the previous contamination.

Pregnant women should talk to the doctor before using the tetanus vaccine.

Can pregnant get tetanus vaccine?

YEAH ! However, there are some precautions before application.

The pregnant woman cannot get the triple vaccine, which is recommended only for children. She can get the dT vaccine, which protects against diphtheria and tetanus, as well as the exclusive tetanus vaccine.

It is also important to remember that the pregnant woman can only get the tetanus vaccine if she has not received a booster in the last 5 years. If this has happened, vaccination is not necessary.

However, it is important to speak to your doctor first, as there may be specific restrictions for your case.

Read more: Can pregnant women take acetaminophen? Know the dosage and risks

Common questions

Does tetanus vaccine hurt?

At the time of vaccination there is only the pain of the sting. Then, it is possible that there is some pain in the region, but it is not strong.

Tetanus vaccine gives fever?

Rarely, yes. However, reactions related to the tetanus vaccine are usually related to the location of the bite, with redness or mild pain.

How many doses of tetanus vaccine do I have to take?

The vaccine schedule contains 6 doses of tetanus vaccine. The first 5 are given in childhood, contained in the triple bacterial (DTP), up to 5 years of age. After that, at 15, there is a sixth booster dose.

From the age of 15, it is recommended that the vaccine be boosted once every 10 years to ensure constant immunization.

Is tetanus vaccine the same thing as tetanus serum?

No! The tetanus serum is composed of specific immunoglobulins (antibodies) to neutralize the toxin. They are usually produced from the cells of horses and are therefore more common to cause side effects, such as allergic reactions.

The tetanus serum should only be used in place of the vaccine when there is no access to the tetanus toxoid or when there is no certainty that 5 years have passed since the last vaccination.

Are vaccinated people totally immune to tetanus?

No . The tetanus vaccine is extremely efficient and makes it very difficult for the disease to settle, but this is possible in some cases.

To further improve your chances of immunity, remember to wash any cuts on your skin thoroughly.