Reactions to Tetanus Shot

Immunization against the tetanus virus is part of the childhood vaccine schedule, which calls for four injections between 2 months and 4-6 years of age with a booster provided at 11-12 years. Adults are generally provided the option of one booster every ten years thereafter. Anyone can experience a reaction to tetanus shot. Reducing the risk after possible exposure is often done with tetanus globulin injection, which is purely antibodies and not a vaccine.

Why is Tetanus Vaccination Important?
Everyone is familiar with the myth that tetanus is caused by stepping on rusty nails. This is only partly true, as tetanus can be caused by any puncture wound where soil enters the body. Tetanus is a bacteria that reproduces both through normal cell division and the creation of spores. the tetanus spore can lay dormant in soil for decades.

Once in the body, the bacteria begins attacking the central nervous system. The first symptoms of tetanus are severe muscle spasms in the neck and jaw, which is the source of the common term lockjaw. Tetanus can be treated with specific antibiotics, and it will lead to death in about one quarter of cases when left untreated.

What are the Side Effects of Tetanus Vaccination?
Reaction to tetanus shot is common and differs somewhat between children and adults. Mild side effects are very common, with around one in four children experiencing them. Some of these are common in adults too.

* slight fevers
* swelling and/or redness at the site of injection
* tenderness or soreness
* fussiness

Less common side effects include:

* Inconsolable crying for extended periods
* Seizure
* Temperatures greater than 105F

Are There Severe Side Effects?
Besides allergic reaction, some evidence from research shows that vaccination can cause brachial neuritis or BN. This condition causes paralysis of the shoulder muscles accompanied by extreme pain. Though it varies between individuals, BN can last as long as two years and lead to irreversible muscle wasting. Onset of BN is generally fast.

ADEM, or acute disseminated encephalomyelitisa, is another syndrome affecting the nervous system. This one generally comes on slower, with up to a month between the vaccination and first symptoms. Early symptoms, including loss of vision, paralysis and loss of gross motor coordination, are caused by chronic inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. ADEM may also cause loss of attention, autism-like symptoms and other behavioral changes.

Guillain-Barre syndrome is another rare but proven side effect that attacks the nervous system. Weakness may be followed by loss of reflexes or paralysis. Low blood pressure and vision loss are also common with this incurable disease. Any mild reaction to tetanus shot associated with these more severe ones should be brought to a doctor’s attention immediately.


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