Tetanus Injection

The tetanus shot should be called anti-tetanus as it protects against tetanus disease also called lockjaw.  The tetanus infection can be very serious and it is potentially life-threatening and so the tetanus vaccine is given during childhood and more specifically when a person has a wound or injury and their tetanus vaccine status is unknown.  The disease is caused by bacteria commonly found in the soil particularly in farming areas.

What are the symptoms of tetanus?

The signs and symptoms of tetanus infection will usually appear two to three weeks after infection most commonly caused by bacteria entering the body from a cut or scrape or split in the skin.  The symptoms of tetanus include:-

  • Stiffness in the jaw muscles hence the title, lockjaw
  • Muscle spasms which are painful and will affect breathing and swallowing
  • Sweating
  • High temperature or fever
  • Rapid heartbeat

Incidences of tetanus infection  are pretty rare; in 2019 in the UK, there were only four reported cases and this is because the tetanus vaccine is part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme.  The full course of the tetanus vaccine follows this schedule:-

  • three tetanus shots are given alongside other vaccinations to infants at age eight, twelve and sixteen weeks
  • a booster dose is given as part of the pre-school booster programme at around the age of three
  • a final dose is given to teenagers at age fourteen

This course should provide life long protection but a booster tetanus shot will often be given if there is deep wound even if it is small or tetanus status is unknown or incomplete.

What is the treatment for tetanus?

Tetanus can be very serious and will be fatal if not treated.  Hospitalisation is required to thoroughly clean the wound and injections are given comprising antibiotics, tetanus immunoglobulin which stops the bacteria attacking the nervous system and a dose of the tetanus vaccine if the patient’s tetanus vaccine history is incomplete or unknown.  Patients are usually admitted to intensive care and will remain ill for some weeks. 

If you need a tetanus shot then contact our vaccination clinic, details are on the website www.milespharmacy.co.uk