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Tetanus Vaccine

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The best way to prevent a tetanus infection is by having vaccination, 5 doses completes the course. The purpose of this vaccine is to allow your body to create antibodies against the tetanus toxin (tetanospasmin). It also protects you from future illnesses if you become exposed to the Clostridium tetani bacterium.

In the UK all children are offered the tetanus vaccine. If you are unsure whether you are fully vaccinated speak to your GP, you may need to have a booster injection.

The DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine

The tetanus vaccine forms part of the combined DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccination, it provides protection against:

  • Diphtheria (D)
  • Tetanus (T)
  • Pertussis (aP) (Whooping cough)
  • Polio (IPV) or inactivated polio vaccine
  • Hib (haemophilus influenza type b)

It’s normal protocol that children are given the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine at two, three and four months old. But it can be given at any stage between two months and 10 years of age. The first course is three doses of the vaccine, each dose is given one month apart.

Children's vaccines

If a course is missed it will be resumed (not repeated) as it normally would’ve been with one month between each dose.

There is no evidence to suggest that premature babies are at higher risk of developing adverse reactions to vaccines, so they should be vaccinated at the appropriate age.

The majority of children can have the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine, but if they’ve had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose (or to any of the components within the vaccine), they should not be given it. If your child has a cough or a cold it’s okay for them to have the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine, but if they have high temperature you must postpone their vaccine.

Side effects

Within 24 hours of having the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine, your child may experience one of the following side effects:

  • swelling and redness the site of the injection
  • slightly raised temperature
  • your child may be miserable and irritable
  • some sickness and diarrhoea
  • a small lump at the site of the injection, this could stay there for a couple of weeks

In very rare cases (affecting less than one in 1000) they babies may have more serious side effects. These usually occurs between 24 to 48 hours after the vaccine, they include:

  • a very high temperature
  • an unusually high-pitched cry
  • being less responsive and floppy than usual
  • a seizure (febrile convulsions)

Contact your GP immediately if your baby starts to fit. Babies usually fully recover if they have a fit. If your child has an illness tell your GP, don’t delay the vaccination.

There is a rare possibility that the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine, like all vaccines cause anaphylaxis. This is a severe allergic reaction that affects less than one in 1 million.

Potential risks of vaccinations are far outweighed by the benefits of being protected against serious diseases.

Booster Dosage

Children under 10 should be given the first tetanus booster combined with diphtheria, pertussis and polio vaccines usually three years after the initial course is completed.

The Td/IPV vaccine

Td/IPV is normally given to children between 13 and 18 years of age. It’s a booster vaccination that tops up the protection against the three following illnesses:

  • diphtheria (d)
  • tetanus (T)
  • polio (IPV) or inactivated polio vaccine.

Some side effects include swelling and redness near the site of the injection.

More serious and less common side effects include:

  • a high temperature of 38*c or above
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • nausea or vomiting
  • swollen glands

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