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Tetanus Toxoid (Systemic)


  • Immunizing agent, active


Tetanus (TET-n-us) Toxoid is used to prevent tetanus (also known as lockjaw). Tetanus is a serious illness that causes convulsions (seizures) and severe muscle spasms that can be strong enough to cause bone fractures of the spine. Tetanus causes death in 30 to 40 percent of cases.

Immunization against tetanus is recommended for all infants 6 to 8 weeks of age and older, all children, and all adults. Immunization against tetanus consists first of a series of either 3 or 4 injections, depending on which type of tetanus toxoid you receive. In addition, it is very important that you get a booster injection every 10 years for the rest of your life. Also, if you get a wound that is unclean or hard to clean, you may need an emergency booster injection if it has been more than 5 years since your last booster. In recent years, two-thirds of all tetanus cases have been in persons 50 years of age and older. A tetanus infection in the past does not make you immune to tetanus in the future.

This vaccine is to be administered only by or under the supervision of your doctor or other health care professional. It is available in the following dosage form:

  • Injection (U.S. and Canada)

Before Using This Medicine

In deciding to receive this vaccine, the risks of receiving the vaccine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For tetanus toxoid, the following should be considered:

Allergies- Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to tetanus toxoid. Also tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any other substances, such as preservatives (especially thimerosal).

Pregnancy- This vaccine has not been shown to cause birth defects or other problems in humans. Vaccination of a pregnant woman can prevent her newborn baby from getting tetanus at birth.

Breast-feeding- Tetanus toxoid has not been reported to cause problems in nursing babies.

Children- Use is not recommended for infants up to 6 weeks of age. For infants and children 6 weeks of age and older, tetanus toxoid is not expected to cause different side effects or problems than it does in adults.

Older adults- This vaccine is not expected to cause different side effects or problems in older people than it does in younger adults. However, the vaccine may be slightly less effective in older persons than in younger adults.

Other medicines- Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Before you receive tetanus toxoid, it is especially important that your health care professional know if you are using any prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Other medical problems- The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of tetanus toxoid. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
  • A severe reaction or a fever greater than 103 °F (39.4 °C) following a previous dose of tetanus toxoid-May increase the chance of side effects with future doses of tetanus toxoid; be sure your doctor knows about this before you receive the next dose of tetanus toxoid
  • Bronchitis, pneumonia, or other illness involving lungs or bronchial tubes, or
  • Severe illness with fever-Possible side effects from tetanus toxoid may be confused with the symptoms of the condition

Proper Use of This Medicine


The dose of tetanus toxoid will be different for different patients. The following information includes only the average doses of tetanus toxoid.

  • For injection dosage forms:
    • For prevention of tetanus (lockjaw):
      • Adults, children, and infants 6 weeks of age and older-One dose is given at your first visit, then a second dose is given four to eight weeks later. Depending on the product given, you may receive a third dose four to eight weeks after the second dose, and a fourth dose six to twelve months after that; or you may receive a third dose six to twelve months after the second dose. Everyone should receive a booster dose every ten years. The doses are injected under the skin or into a muscle. In addition, if you get a wound that is unclean or hard to clean, you may need an emergency booster injection if it has been more than 5 years since your last booster dose.

Side Effects of This Medicine

Side Effects of This Vaccine

Along with its needed effects, a vaccine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Get emergency help immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

  • Symptoms of allergic reaction
    • Difficulty in breathing or swallowing;  hives;  itching, especially of feet or hands;  reddening of skin, especially around ears;  swelling of eyes, face, or inside of nose;  unusual tiredness or weakness (sudden and severe) 

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • Rare
    • Confusion;  convulsions (seizures);  fever over 103 °F (39.4 °C);  headache (severe or continuing);  sleepiness (excessive) ;  swelling, blistering, or pain at place of injection (severe or continuing);  swelling of glands in armpit ;  unusual irritability;  vomiting (severe or continuing) 

Other side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. However, check with your doctor if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome:

  • More common
    • Redness or hard lump at place of injection 

  • Less common
    • Chills, fever, irritability, or unusual tiredness;  pain, tenderness, itching, or swelling at place of injection ;  skin rash 

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your doctor.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT