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Tetanus & Diphtheria Vaccine

Tetanus and Diphtheria Vaccines at AFC Urgent Care Willow Grove

What causes Tetanus?

Clostridium tetani is the name of the bacteria that causes Tetanus and can be found in soil. The bacteria are very common in the environment worldwide and can cause a bacterial infection in the body that is often known as "Lockjaw." When infected, the bacteria release a toxin in the body that causes muscles to tighten, stiffen, and even spasms painfully. Muscle tightening can be so severe that it can break bones or make breathing extremely difficult. The term "Lockjaw" comes from cases of severe Tetanus, where someone is unable to move their mouth due to muscle spasms. This potentially fatal infection, however, is completely preventable with an up-to-date tetanus shot.

What are some common symptoms of Tetanus?

Some common signs of a Tetanus infection include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Painful muscle spams
  • Rigidity or stiffness in the jaw

If left untreated, other more severe symptoms can occur, including:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Significantly high blood pressure
  • Significantly lower blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Sweating

What causes diphtheria?

Like Tetanus, diphtheria is also caused by a bacterial infection. When infected, it causes a thick coating to appear in someone's throat. This coating can make it difficult to breathe. It can also cause heart failure, paralysis, and death. Hundreds of thousands of people were sickened by diphtheria every year before a vaccine was developed in the early part of the last century. Thanks to this breakthrough, diphtheria cases went from 200,000 or more a year to 19,000 in 1945 in the United States. Between 1996 and 2018, there were only 14 total cases.

What is a tetanus shot?

There is no cure for Tetanus, but a tetanus shot can train your immune system to attack the bacteria and help immunize you against the toxins produced by the bacteria. It is widely accepted to be very effective at preventing Tetanus. A tetanus vaccine is almost always combined with other vaccines, like the one for diphtheria. There are four common combinations:

  • DTaP Vaccine - Given to younger children for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.
  • DT Vaccine - Given to children who can not receive a pertussis vaccine
  • Td Vaccine - Given to older children for Tetanus and diphtheria.
  • Tdap Vaccine - Given to older children and adults for Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.

Who should get a tetanus shot?

The CDC recommends that anyone over two months old get a tetanus shot. There are other specific recommendations for vaccines that often include a tetanus shot:

  • Children 6 and under should receive a DT or DTaP vaccine.
  • Children 7 and older and adults should receive a Td or Tdap vaccine.
  • Women who are pregnant should receive a Tdap Vaccine during pregnancy.
  • Everyone should receive a booster tetanus shot every ten years.
  • If you suffer a wound in the skin from a dirty item, a booster shot should be given if the last booster received was more than five years ago.

Are there any side effects of a tetanus shot?

Like any vaccine, there is a chance of side effects, but these are typically short and mild. If minor side effects do appear, they are generally confined to redness and soreness in the area where a shot was given. Severe side effects are very rare.

Come to AFC Urgent Care Willow Grove today with your vaccine records and let our providers determine if you need a booster or any other vaccines you may need to protect your health.

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