Prevention of Tetanus

Tetanus is an easily preventable (although serious) disease. Highly effective vaccine (TT or tetanus toxoid) is available. Tetanus occurs among individuals who have never been immunized with tetanus toxoid (against tetanus neurotoxin tetanospasmin) or those who have not had a booster shot of tetanus toxoid in preceding 10 years. Tetanus is extremely rare among adequately immunized individuals.

In many of infectious diseases patients can develop immunity after infection, however in case of tetanus it is not the case and there is no development of immunity against Claustridium tetani. There is no development of immunity because the neurotoxin (tetanospasmin) produced by Claustridium tetani is highly potent and even a dose that can kill a patient is not sufficient to induce immune response.

Tetanus immunization:

Prevention of tetanus is easy and adequate with tetanus toxoid shots. For infants tetanus immunization should be given along with diptheria and pertusis, known as triple vaccine (contain three vaccines in one shot DPT or diptheria, pertusis and tetanus).

DPT vaccine recommendation for newborn infants is as follows:

  • First dose of DPT shot (in right or left thigh intramuscularly) at the age of 6 weeks. The second shot at 10 weeks and a third dose at the age of 14 weeks of age. A tetanus booster shot is given at the age of five years and thereafter booster shot of DPT every 10 years. The triple vaccine DPT is part of WHO (world health organization) Universal Program of Immunization.

Tetanus vaccination schedule/recommendation for pregnant women to prevent neonatal tetanus among newborn babies is as follows:

  • For first pregnancy, the first tetanus shot should be given 16-24 weeks of pregnancy and a second shot 4 weeks after the first shot. For every subsequent pregnancy, a single tetanus toxoid shot between 16-24 weeks of pregnancy is sufficient.

Tetanus toxoid vaccine for unvaccinated adults or adults with unknown tetanus vaccination history is as follows:

  • First tetanus toxoid shot within 6 hours of injury by any object (e.g. injury by nail prick, thorn, or any other metal or non metal objects including animal bite) that can cause tetanus. The second tetanus shot one month after the first shot and booster shot every 10 years thereafter.


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