Tetanus is a globally widespread medical condition that can now be prevented through vaccination. The tetanus vaccine consists of the inactivated form of the toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium tetani. It is capable of producing immunity by generating antibodies against the tetanus bacteria, without actually causing the disease. By taking multiple doses of the vaccine in the form of injections and taking a booster dose every 10 years, the tetanus disease can be prevented successfully.
In the year 1889, Baron Kitasato Shibasaburo a Japanese physician was able to isolate the tetanus bacteria from an infected human. He went on to demonstrate that the toxic substance produced by the bacteria can be neutralized by administering specific antibodies.
In the year 1897, Edmond Nocard was able to show that by passively transferring antitoxin into an individual, a protective effect can be created against the tetanus bacteria. This kind of passive immunization was extensively used for the first time during World War I. However, it was Gaston Ramon and P. Descombey who were able to produce the tetanus toxoid vaccine in the year 1924. This was later used during World War II in order to prevent the spread of tetanus.
In the year 1930, the tetanus vaccine became a part of the vaccine given to prevent diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). This vaccine combination was called DPT. Its use continued until 1991, after which the pertussis vaccine was replaced with acellular pertussis vaccine, as many who received the DPT vaccine developed pain, swelling, and redness on the skin around the area where the vaccine was injected. This modified vaccine came to be known as DPaT.
Tetanus Vaccine – The Recommended Vaccination Schedule
Initially, the tetanus vaccine is given at 5 different points of time, in the anterolateral thigh muscle of infants and children. It is given to adults in the deltoid muscle of the arm.
The different points of time scheduled for the initial vaccination are:
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 15 to 18 months
- 4 to 6 years
A booster dose of the vaccine (TD) that provides protection from tetanus and diphtheria is given to individuals every 10 years if they’re are under 65 years of age. This helps the body stay immune to tetanus.
In the case of pregnant women who have not received the vaccine in the two years prior to pregnancy, the DTaP or TD vaccine is administered post delivery. But in the case of women who have never received DTP, DTaP, or TD vaccine early in life, 3 different TD vaccines are given during pregnancy (20 weeks into pregnancy) to make sure that the mother as well as the unborn child is protected against tetanus. This also holds true for those pregnant women who have not received the TD vaccine as adults.
Success Rate Of The Tetanus Vaccine
The worldwide tetanus vaccine is the most commonly used vaccine with a huge success rate. It has reduced the incidence of tetanus drastically, both in developed as well as developing countries.
Side Effects Of The Tetanus Vaccine
The tetanus vaccine has been found to have some non-fatal side effects, such as:
- Fever, diarrhea, allergic reactions, pneumonia, and blood in the urine and the stools
- Redness of the skin, swelling, sore and tender muscles around the area where the injection is given
- Body ache and fatigue, in some cases
- Heavy edematous urticaria, arthralgia, nephrosis, and anaphylactic shock, in rare cases
The tetanus vaccine has been found to be the most effective way to counter tetanus. Get your child vaccinated against tetanus at the right time and consult your doctor for more information about the vaccine.