Tetanus Shot Reaction

Some Important Facts about a Tetanus Shot Reaction

Tetanus shots are necessary to prevent a dangerous infection but a tetanus shot reaction is not a particularly good experience either. Luckily, a tetanus shot reaction is not an everyday occurrence. In fact, under 1% of the people who get tetanus shots, have any type of severe reaction.


A tetanus shot reaction can fall into any of several different categories, such as mild, moderate, or severe. The most often seen side effect is mild and is simply swelling around the site of the shot. This swelling is very common. Other tetanus shot side effects which are mild include a low fever, muscle pain, tiredness, the feeling of nausea and headaches.

The side effects of the tetanus shot are usually quite minor when looked at in light of how dangerous it is to get tetanus. Tetanus is caused by bacterial spores which are found in soil, but you can also find them in the human colon, house dust, operating rooms, animal excrement and many other places. The bacterial spores, Clostridium tetani, produce a toxin, known as tetanospasmin, and this toxin causes nerves to stop functioning properly and eventually, muscles cannot relax. Tetanus is also known as lockjaw, because the jaw is one of the first muscles which stops being able to contract.


Some of the more moderate side effects of a tetanus shot reaction, include high fever, vomiting and diarrhea. A high temperature can be in the neighborhood of 102 degrees. Unfortunately, some people have even more severe side effects. For them, the tetanus shot reaction can continue to progress to a severe allergic reaction, which causes the mouth to swell, along with hard breathing and wheezing.

An allergic reaction can lead to convulsions, and eventually seizures, falling into a coma and brain damage. As you can see, a tetanus shot reaction can be much more than simply feeling sick with flu-type symptoms, it can lead to brain damage and death. That’s why when you go to your doctor or the hospital with a problem like having stepped on a rusty nail or if you had something like a bicycle accident with loss of skin, one of the first things that will happen is that you will be given a tetanus shot.

Ninety-nine percent of the people who have a tetanus shot never have any problematic reaction. Children receive a tetanus shot as part of their childhood vaccinations but it does not stand alone. It is combined with vaccines for diphtheria and pertussis in children under the age of twelve. Children sometimes experience a decreased appetite, but other than that the reactions to a tetanus shot are the same as for adults.

Most minor and moderate reactions to tetanus shots do not require any special treatment. Such symptoms as swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and fatigue will go away within forty-eight hours. If you start to experience any of the severe effects, like an allergic reaction, seizures or you pass out, someone needs to get you immediately to a hospital emergency room for treatment.

Any minor symptoms which last more than five days are also a warning sign that you need to get to a doctor or hospital emergency room. Most symptoms will be gone in forty-eight hours.

If you are an adult who had childhood vaccines, you need a booster tetanus shot every ten years. If you are an adult who has never had a tetanus shot, you will need to start with the original three doses, spaced out according to the drug’s specifications, just like with children. Then you would need the normal booster shots.