Hitting a vein

For an injection, the healthcare provider will clean the skin of the area to be injected with an alcohol pad or antiseptic. Then, they’ll inject the numbing medicine and a small amount of air to make sure you don’t feel any pain.

Afterward, they’ll clean the area with an antiseptic, wrap a bandage around the area, and apply a tetanus shot.

The tetanus shot is given in the same area as the other shots.

Outlook and recovery

Most people can recover in a few days. You may have some bruising and swelling for a few days.

If you have a tetanus booster shot, you’ll likely have less pain than the first shot.

Avoid touching the injection site unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise.

You might develop a wound infection if you do touch the injection site or if you’re not careful with bandages.

Take care when doing any heavy lifting, or if you have an open wound. These can increase your risk of infection.

You should also wash your hands after touching the injection site.

You might have a fever for a few days after the injection. You can take a pain reliever for this.

Contact your doctor if you have any:

Your healthcare provider will review your symptoms and do the appropriate tests. They may give you other instructions, such as when to resume activity and when to call them.

What’s the outlook for a tetanus booster shot?

You should have a tetanus booster shot within the first year of your life. You’ll likely need one every 10 years after that.

You may need a booster shot if you:

  • Had a reaction to the first shot
  • Had a bad reaction to the first shot
  • Cannot get the tetanus vaccine
  • Have a weakened immune system

You may need a booster shot if you have a weak immune system.

You can get the tetanus vaccine at any time, even if you haven’t had a tetanus booster shot.

The vaccine is generally safe and effective.

The tetanus vaccine is effective. A 2013 study found that the vaccine was 90 percent effective in preventing tetanus infection. However, a 2010 review found that the vaccine was only 50 percent effective.

Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of getting the vaccine.

They’ll need to know all of your medical history, as well as any past reactions to the vaccine.

You’ll also need to get a medical exam to make sure you don’t have any other medical conditions.

The tetanus vaccine is for children 2 years of age and older.

The tetanus booster shot is given to children 1 year of age and older.

Outlook may be different for people with certain health conditions. For instance, the tetanus vaccine is not recommended for people with:

  • A weakened immune system caused by a disease, such as HIV
  • A weakened immune system caused by medicines
  • A weakened immune system caused by a medical condition, such as lupus
  • A history of another tetanus vaccine reaction
  • A history of a severe reaction to other vaccines

Make sure to call your doctor if you have any of these conditions or have had a severe reaction to another vaccine.

How do I get ready for a tetanus booster shot?

Before your appointment, tell your healthcare provider about all the vaccines you’ve had.

You may need a blood test to check for infections. The tetanus vaccine can cause a false-positive result for tetanus antibodies.

You’ll need a physical exam to make sure you don’t have any medical conditions that may interfere with the vaccine.

You may need to fast for 2 hours before your appointment.

The first step is to get vaccinated. Talk with your doctor about your vaccination schedule.

The CDC recommends children get a tetanus booster shot starting at 12 years old and older, though the age may vary depending on your health.

Next, your healthcare provider will give you a tetanus shot.

They may give you other shots at the same time. This will help prevent any possible reactions to other shots.

They’ll also review your health history and ask you about any known medical conditions.

What happens during a tetanus booster shot?

The tetanus vaccine isn’t given as a shot. Instead, the vaccine is given in a series of shots.

Each shot is given by healthcare providers in different parts of the body, including:

  • The arm. Doctors will inject the vaccine into the upper arm.
  • The back of the hand. They’ll inject the vaccine into the backs of the hands.
  • The thigh. They’ll inject the vaccine into the thighs.
  • The calf. They’ll inject the vaccine into the calves.

The tetanus vaccine can cause some mild side effects, such as:

  • A mild soreness where the tetanus shot was given.
  • A rash that usually starts 1 to 2 days after the shot.
  • A fever.

You can take a pain reliever for this.

The vaccine may cause a low white blood cell count after the first shot. This will go away within a few days.

You may also develop some swelling and bruising at the injection site.

Most people with a weak immune system will not have any side effects.

If you have a weakened immune system, your healthcare provider may give you a booster shot in the future.

If you had a bad reaction to the first tetanus shot, you may not be able to get the second shot.

Risks and warnings

The tetanus booster shot is generally safe.

Serious side effects are rare. However, they can occur.

Serious side effects can include:

  • A severe allergic reaction, including anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening condition where the blood vessels in your throat, mouth, and tongue swell and the airways swell under your tongue. You may also develop trouble breathing.
  • A serious infection at the injection site.
  • A high fever.
  • Serious swelling at the injection site.
  • A seizure.
  • An abnormal heart rate.
  • A serious allergic reaction.
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing.

You may also get a rash at the injection site. A rash is usually a red rash with small bumps.

These bumps may be:

  • Red.
  • Itchy.
  • Swollen.

The takeaway

You can get a tetanus booster shot at any time.

You’ll likely need a tetanus shot in the first year of your life. A tetanus booster shot is recommended every 10 years. You might need a booster shot if you:

Before taking any medicine, tell your doctor if you have had:

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