Tetanus Vaccine: Composition, Mechanism of Action, Dosage, Side Effects, Contraindications and Interactions

This disease is a serious bacterial infection that causes painful muscle spasms and can lead to death.

The tetanus vaccine is combined with other vaccines, so that a person can receive protection from several diseases with a single injection.

Tetanus-containing vaccines are provided free of charge as part of immunizations in most countries, it is easy to purchase.

There are several vaccine combinations that are recommended for children and adults at different ages.

Composition of the tetanus vaccine

Vaccines are made up of tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis toxins that have been made non-toxic, but still have the ability to create an immune response. These vaccines do not contain live bacteria.

The cultivation of Clostridium tetani is carried out in a peptone-based medium and is detoxified with formaldehyde.

The detoxified material is then purified by serial ammonium sulfate fractionation, followed by sterile filtration.

The toxoid is then diluted with physiological saline (0.85%). Each dose contains the preservative thimerosal, a derivative of mercury, in an amount of 25 mg of mercury per dose.

This product does not contain an aluminum-containing adjuvant.

Mechanism of action of the tetanus vaccine

Immunization is active by the production of protective antibodies induced by toxoids against the exotoxin of Clostridium tetani.

These products transmit active immunity by stimulating the production of endogenously produced antibodies.

The onset of protection against the disease is relatively slow, but the duration is 10 years.


It is manufactured independently and as part of other combination vaccines.

It is presented in injections for intramuscular or subcutaneous use, it is a sterile solution of toxoid in isotonic sodium chloride solution.


Immunizations with tetanus vaccines, to obtain long-term protection, are accompanied by vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis and with diphtheria and tetanus toxoids, the vaccination scheme implemented worldwide is as follows:

Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, polio, haemophilus influenzae type b, for children under 7 years of age.

Three doses are applied and is usually given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age.

Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b, `for children under 5 years of age

Four doses are applied and is usually given at 2, 4, 6, and 18 months of age.

It is given as a booster dose for children who received 3 doses of Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b.

This vaccine is given to infants as a booster dose at 18 months of age after completing a primary series of three doses of Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b.

Tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio

This vaccine is given as one dose for children 4 to 6 years of age.

This is a booster dose for children who were immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio at an earlier age.

The booster dose strengthens or boosts the immune system to provide better protection against these diseases as children start school.

Tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough

This vaccine is offered to all students in grade 9. This is a booster dose for children immunized against these diseases at an earlier age.

The vaccine can also be given to children 7 years of age and older who have not been fully immunized, and to adults or immigrants who have not been vaccinated or whose vaccination history is unknown.

People born in 1989 or later who missed their dose of Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis in Teens are eligible for one dose of this vaccine.

A booster dose of Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Polio vaccine is recommended for adults who were vaccinated in childhood,

Increases immunity to previous doses of tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis-containing vaccines.

Tetanus, diphtheria

Increases immunity to previous doses of tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis-containing vaccines.

Adults who were immunized against tetanus and diphtheria when they were younger should receive a booster dose of the Tetanus, Diphtheria vaccine every 10 years.

Adults who have not been vaccinated or do not have a prior immunization record should also receive the vaccine.

This vaccine can also be given to people with severe cuts or deep wounds if their last tetanus shot was more than 5 years ago.

Side Effects of the Tetanus Vaccine

It is important to know that, in general, the risk of problems from getting tetanus is much higher than from getting a tetanus shot.

You cannot get tetanus from the tetanus shot, however sometimes the tetanus shot can cause side effects. These may include:

The body system as a whole

Adverse reactions can be local and include:

  • Redness, warmth, edema, induration with or without sensitivity.
  • Hives and skin rash.
  • General malaise, headache, or body aches.
  • Transient fever.
  • Hypotension, nausea, and arthralgias.

Hypersensitivity reactions, characterized by severe local reactions (usually beginning 2 to 8 hours after an injection), can occur, particularly in people who have received multiple previous boosters.

The nervious system

The following neurological diseases have been reported to be temporarily associated with vaccines containing tetanus toxoid.

Neurologic complications include cochlear injury, brachial plexus neuropathies, radial nerve palsy, recurrent nerve palsy, lodging paresis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and EEG disturbances with encephalopathy.

Allergic reaction

A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is very rare, but can occur within minutes of receiving the vaccine. Symptoms can include:

  • Redness, itching, or swelling of the skin.
  • Difficulty breathing or other respiratory symptoms.
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal cramps.
  • Dizziness, low blood pressure, fast heartbeat.


  • It is contraindicated in people with hypersensitivity to thimerosal.
  • For passive immunization, use Tetanus Immune Globulin.
  • If you are hypersensitive to aluminum the alternative is the fluid toxoid for use.
  • Intramuscular injections should be administered with great care in patients suffering from thrombocytopenia or other bleeding disorders.
  • In the case of nursing mothers, it is unknown whether it is excreted in human milk.
  • In pregnancy it should be used with caution if the benefits outweigh the risks.

Tetanus vaccine interactions

Its use is contraindicated if belimumab is being administered.

The vaccine should be administered subcutaneously in patients on anticoagulant therapy.

Immunosuppressive therapies can reduce the response to vaccines.