Are There Side Effects From a Tetanus Shot?


Quick Answer

Common possible side effects to a tetanus shot include redness, skin warm to the touch, swelling, hives and rash near the injection site; fever; pain; and nausea, notes RxList. The vaccine is given to prevent tetanus.

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Full Answer

Tetanus is defined as a bacterial disease marked by rigidity and spasms of the voluntary muscles. It is caused by a toxin called tetanospasmin, which is produced by a small bacterium called Clostridium tetani, according to WebMD. The bacterium can enter the body through burns, ulcers and needle injection sites; however, be extra suspicious of sites on the skin cut by rusty or dirty items covered in soil. Once the bacteria gets into the bloodstream, it germinates and releases the toxin, which then spreads from the extremities to the spine.

After a week the toxin begins to block relaxation signals sent to the brain resulting in muscle contractions. While the tetanus spreads and infects every part of the body, it is not contagious. Once it spreads, however, the mortality rate is approximately 30 percent. This is even with the use of modern medical facilities, states WebMD. Other side effects from the tetanus shot, though not as common, include muscle aches, joint pain, mild fever and tiredness. Severe allergic reactions to this immunization are reportedly extremely rare.

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