Tips to Prevent Tetanus

By  , Expert Content
Jul 07, 2012

Tips to Prevent Tetanus

Tetanus can be prevented by immunisation with tetanus vaccine. Tetanus has become a rare disease in many countries because tetanus vaccine is given as part of routine childhood immunisation programmes. Research suggests that tetanus mostly occurs in people who've never been immunised or who haven't had a tetanus booster shot in the past 10 years. [Read: What is Tetanus?]

Tetanus vaccine: You can prevent tetanus by getting vaccinated with the tetanus vaccine. Vaccines are drugs which help to prevent you from getting sick. Vaccines encourage your body to attack the specific germs or toxin against which you have received the vaccine. After getting tetanus vaccine, your body develops antibodies against the tetanus toxin (tetanospasmin) and is prepared to attack the toxin. This protects you from the disease on exposure to spores of Clostridium tetani bacterium.

Primary vaccine series

Tetanus vaccine is usually given to infants as a part of routine childhood immunisation programmes. When given as part of childhood immunisation, tetanus vaccine is available in combination with diphtheria and pertussis vaccine. This vaccine provides protection against three deadly diseases i.e. diphtheria (a throat and respiratory infection), pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. [Read: Expected duration of Tetanus]

Five shots of the vaccine are given over a period of several months. The vaccine is given in the arm or thigh to children when their age is:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 15 -18 months
  • 4 - 6 years.

In India the first three doses are given at the age of 6, 10 and 14 weeks.

The booster

Booster of the tetanus vaccine may be given in combination with a booster of diphtheria vaccine (Td) or as only tetanus vaccine (injection TT). A tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine was approved for use in teens and adults under age 65 in 2005. This vaccine was developed to ensure continuing protection against pertussis.

According to experts, adolescents should get a dose of Tdap, preferably between the ages of 11 and 12 years. Following that a Td booster should be given every 10 years. Adults who have never received a dose of Tdap should substitute it for the next Td booster dose and then continue with Td boosters.

People travelling from developed countries to a developing country should get their vaccination updated. Consult your doctor to review your vaccination status on a regular basis.

Tetanus immunoglobulin

Tetanus immune globulin (TIG) should be given as soon as possible to any person with contaminated wound (even if the person is vaccinated). Tetanus immunoglobulin can neutralise tetanospasmin toxin (but only the toxin that hasn't yet bonded to nerve tissue). It is given intravenously (injected into a vein) and provides immediate short-term protection against tetanus. TIG provides only short-term protection; it does not replace the long-term effects of vaccination. According to experts, TIG injections can be safely given to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.


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