Trinity Salem Family Health Clinic

How Often Do You Need a Tetanus Shot?

May 01, 2023
How Often Do You Need a Tetanus Shot?
Getting protection from illnesses like tetanus is essential. In fact, the vaccination has saved millions of lives. But once you’ve had the inoculation, when do you need the next one? How often is the vaccine needed?

When it comes to protection from diseases and preventing them from spreading, vaccinations are an essential part of your long-term health plan. In fact, immunizations have prevented up to 3 million yearly deaths globally, reduced mortality from measles by 84%, and almost completely eliminated polio. 

Tetanus shots are part of the series of vaccinations recommended for children to protect them from the effects of this potentially fatal bacterial condition. But once they have it, how soon do they need another shot? Let’s explore this question by looking at what tetanus is, the types of vaccines available, and recommended frequency for tetanus vaccinations.

If you live in Waxahachie, Texas, and need a tetanus shot or another vaccination, Yaminah Matthews and our skilled medical team at Trinity Salem Family Health Clinic can help.

Understanding tetanus

Tetanus is a bacterial infection also known as lockjaw. It is found in dust, soil, and manure. If you experience an injury that breaks the skin, like a cut or abrasion, the bacteria (Clostridium tetani) can infect you and get to your central nervous system by moving through your blood or nerves. 

If you get infected, symptoms may start to show about a week after, and you’ll begin to experience stiffness and muscle contractions in your jaw (the reason it is called lockjaw) and may spread to your hands, arms, legs, and back. It can also cause headaches, muscle stiffness, problems with swallowing, sweating, fever, restlessness, and irritability.

Tetanospasmin is the toxin in tetanus, and it can be deadly. Once in the body, it moves to the spine and can eventually impact breathing. It has a 30% mortality rate once it spreads throughout your body.

Types of vaccines available

The type of vaccination you need depends on your age:

  • Younger children (infancy to seven years) get the DT (diphtheria/ tetanus) and DTaP (diphtheria/ tetanus/ pertussis or whooping cough) shots. 
  • Older children and adults receive the Td (tetanus/diphtheria) and Tdap (tetanus/ diphtheria/ pertussis or whooping cough) vaccines.

These immunizations have been available as far back as World War II and over the years have led to an astounding 99% drop in infections from this deadly bacteria. 

Recommended frequency for tetanus shots

These vaccinations don’t last a lifetime, so you will need booster shots. Here’s the schedule for these immunizations as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Childhood shots

Your child should get shots at two months, four months, six months, 15-18 months, and four to six years old. At 11 or 12 they should receive a Tdap shot to bolster immunity.

Adult Vaccines

Adults should get a tetanus vaccination every decade. If you’re pregnant, you can get a Tdap vaccine in your third trimester to immunize your unborn child.

The vaccination is safe, but mild reactions may include headaches, a rash, decreased appetite, lethargy, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, and fever. Be sure to let us know about any allergies, so we can determine if they’ll affect you before we give you the shot.

Tetanus shots are essential for your health. If you need to update your immunizations, make an appointment with Yaminah Matthews and her team at Trinity Salem Family Health Clinic today.