Common questions about tetanus
Tetanus is caused by bacteria. The bacteria lives in dirt, soil, manure or human stool, and causes disease when it enters a person’s body through any open cut or wound. This includes something as simple as a cut that gets dirt in it when gardening. Though many people think that tetanus is a risk only when a person is cut by a rusty object, the fact is, tetanus bacteria is risk for any open cut or wound.
Tetatus is sometimes called “lockjaw” as the most immediate symptom of tetanus disease is a headache combined with a sore, stiff jaw. As the disease progresses, stiffness in the back, neck and shoulders, followed by extremely painful muscle spasms, can develop. In fact, sometimes, these muscle spasms are so severe that they can result in broken bones, and even lead to seizures and death.
Tetanus can cause your child to experience very painful muscle spasms so severe that they result in broken bones. Tetanus can also attack the muscles that control breathing, cause speech and memory problems, and even result in death.
To be protected against tetanus, your child needs doses of the DTaP-IPV-Hib, DTaP-IPV and dTaP vaccines, at the ages and stages recommended in the routine schedule. Your child is recommended to receive the DTaP-IPV-Hib vaccine at two months of age, followed by a dose at four months of age, at six months of age, and at 18 months of age. Your child will then need a dose of the DTaP-IPV vaccine between four and six years of age. Finally, your child will need a dose of the dTaP vaccine between 14 and 16 years of age.
Side effects of the tetanus vaccine are usually very mild, and temporary. Your child may have a slight fever, be fussy, sleepier or have less appetite than usual, and his or her arm or thigh might be a bit red or sore where the needle went in. These side effects are very common, usually happen about 12 to 24 hours after the immunization, and usually go away within a few days. For tips on managing symptoms following immunization, click here.