Tetanus shot.
Tetanus shot. Source: Shutterstock

What To Expect When Getting A Tetanus Shot

Tetanus is a disease that results in the tightening of muscles, and is caused by bacterial infection. For this reason, it is also called ‘lockjaw’. And as the name suggests, it results in the jaw muscles becoming tight and unable to function. It is a dangerous disease, and can kill one out of ten people that contract the disease according to the CDC.

You might contract tetanus through cuts or scratches that lead to skin openings. The bacteria that causes tetanus is present in dust, soil, manure or any rusted surface that might have caused the cut.  


If you suspect that you might be at risk of catching the disease, it is always wise to take a shot for tetanus. But, there are some side effects to the injection that you should keep in mind. Moreover, there are also some cases where you should consider an alternative to the vaccine. 

Side Effects of Taking a Tetanus Shot 

Let’s first take a look at the possible reactions from a tetanus vaccine in this section: 

Pain Where the Shot Has Been Taken 

One of the first side effects that you will notice is pain where you have taken the vaccine. However, it shouldn’t be too much to bear. The pain should start fading within a day or two. 

Severe Allergic Reactions 

A rather severe side effect to getting tetanus shots is a bad allergic reaction. Here are some of the symptoms that you might notice: 

  1. Itchy throat, hands or feet. 
  2. Severe fatigue all of a sudden.
  3. Swollen and itching eyes, in the face or sinuses. 
  4. Rapid heartbeat. 
  5. Difficulty swallowing or breathing.

    However, having a drastic allergic reaction is a rare case and it’s more likely that you don’t experience any of these symptoms. But in case you do, the symptoms mentioned above should start anywhere between minutes to hours of taking the injection.

    In such a scenario, get medical attention immediately. 

Pain, Redness, Bleeding and Swelling 

In some people, the skin around the area the injection was taken becomes red and swollen. There have also been cases where the skin started bleeding around the injection site. Again, this is a very drastic reaction and you should get immediate medical assistance if you have such a reaction. 

Nausea and Vomiting 

Some forms of the vaccine may cause you to feel nausea, or cause diarrhoea. As a result, you should drink plenty of fluids after you have taken the shot. Also, eat plain food to avoid worsening the situation. The symptoms should subside naturally with time. 


Fever is a possible side effect of taking the shot, and you might experience it a few hours after taking the vaccine. If you feel like your temperature is rising, drink plenty of water and get ample rest. The fever should reduce within a day or two. 

Tiredness or Fatigue 

A very common side effect of the tetanus vaccine is tiredness or fatigue. This is actually the result of the body using its energy to build immunity. So, there is no cause for worry. Try to get as much rest as possible to avoid worsening the fatigue. 

Cases in Which You Should Avoid the Vaccine 

As mentioned earlier, there are some cases where you should consider avoiding the vaccine. 


A lot of people get their first tetanus dose as a child. And it is important that the reactions from their first shot be taken into account. 


If there was a severe reaction to the vaccine at that time, you should not take it another time. If you have a cut that was caused in a dusty area, or by rusted iron, talk to your doctor for alternatives if you have experienced an allergic reaction. 


Here are some conditions under which it is not advisable to take a tetanus shot: 

  1. Past allergic reaction to the shot 
  2. Previous nervous system conditions
  3. History of seizures 
  4. Guillain Barre syndrome


These side effects are some of the things that you can expect when you’re getting a tetanus shot. Tiredness, fatigue and mild fever are common reactions and should not be cause for worry.  

But anything else, especially including allergic reactions, should require immediate medical attention.

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