Tetanus is an uncommon but very serious disease caused by spores of bacteria found in the environment. Make sure you and your loved ones are up to date with your tetanus vaccination so you can enjoy being outdoors safely.
The United States sees an average of about 30 reported cases each year. Nearly all cases of tetanus are among people who did not get all the recommended tetanus vaccinations.
These vaccines help protect against tetanus and also provide protection against other diseases:
- DTaP protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough)
- DT protects against diphtheria and tetanus
- Tdap protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis
- Td protects against tetanus and diphtheria
The vaccine recommended for someone depends on their age.
- Babies and young children should get five shots of DTaP between the ages of 2 months and 6 years. Children 6 years old and younger who should not get whooping cough vaccines can receive DT for protection against diphtheria and tetanus.
- Preteens should get one shot of Tdap between the ages of 11 and 12 years.
- All adults who have never received one should get a shot of Tdap. This can be given at any time, regardless of when they last got Td. This should be followed by either a Td or Tdap shot every 10 years.
Most people who get a tetanus vaccine do not have any serious problems with it. However, side effects can occur. Most side effects are mild, meaning they do not affect daily activities.
Vaccines used today against diphtheria and tetanus sometimes also include protection against whooping cough or pertussis. Babies and children younger than 7 years old receive DTaP or DT, while older children and adults receive Tdap and Td.
Who Should Get Tetanus Vaccines?
Babies need 3 shots of DTaP to build up high levels of protection against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. Then, young children need 2 booster shots to maintain that protection through early childhood. CDC recommends shots at the following ages:
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 15 through 18 months
- 4 through 6 years
Preteens should get one shot of Tdap between the ages of 11 and 12 years to boost their immunity. Teens who didn’t get Tdap as a preteen should get vaccinated the next time they visit their healthcare professional.
Pregnant women should get Tdap during the early part of the 3rd trimester of every pregnancy. By doing so, she helps protect her baby from whooping cough in the first few months of life.
All adults who have never received one should get a shot of Tdap. This can be given at any time, regardless of when they last got Td. This should be followed by either a Td or Tdap shot every 10 years.