The tetanus-diphtheria (Td) vaccine protects against toxins produced by the tetanus and diphtheria bacteria, not against the bacteria themselves. There is also a combination vaccine that adds protection against pertussis Pertussis Pertussis is a highly contagious infection caused by the gram-negative bacteria Bordetella pertussis, which results in fits of coughing that usually end in a prolonged, high-pitched,... read more (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine The diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine is a combination vaccine that protects against these three diseases: Diphtheria usually causes inflammation of the throat and mucous membranes... read more ).
Typically, the tetanus Tetanus Tetanus results from a toxin produced by the anaerobic bacteria Clostridium tetani. The toxin makes muscles contract involuntarily and become rigid. Tetanus usually develops after a wound... read more bacteria enter the body through a wound and begin to grow and produce the toxin. The toxin causes severe muscle spasms and can be fatal. Therefore, vaccination is particularly important.
Diphtheria Diphtheria Diphtheria is a contagious, sometimes fatal infection of the upper respiratory tract caused by the gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria (see figure How Bacteria Shape Up) Corynebacterium diphtheriae... read more usually causes inflammation of the throat and mucous membranes of the mouth. Also, the bacteria that cause diphtheria produce a toxin that can damage the heart, kidneys, and nervous system. Before routine vaccination became available, diphtheria was a leading cause of death in children.
For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Td (Tetanus, Diphtheria) vaccine information statement.
(See also Overview of Immunization Overview of Immunization Immunization enables the body to better defend itself against diseases caused by certain bacteria or viruses. Immunity (the ability of the body to defend itself against diseases caused by certain... read more .)
Administration of Tetanus-Diphtheria Vaccine
A diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine The diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine is a combination vaccine that protects against these three diseases: Diphtheria usually causes inflammation of the throat and mucous membranes... read more (DTaP) is typically given during childhood. This combination vaccine is given in five injections (at age 2, 4, 6, and 12 to 18 months and at age 4 to 6 years), followed by a booster (Tdap) that contains the same amount of tetanus vaccine but a smaller amount of diphtheria and pertussis vaccine. The booster is given at age 11 to 12 years. Because immunity against pertussis is decreasing, people over age 16 should receive the Tdap booster if they have not received it previously.
The tetanus-diphtheria (Td) or Tdap vaccine is given as a booster every 10 years after the Tdap booster is given at age 11 to 12 years. Also, people sometimes need to be vaccinated after an injury that breaks the skin.
Certain conditions may affect whether and when people are vaccinated (see also CDC: Who Should NOT Get Vaccinated With These Vaccines?). If people have a temporary illness, doctors usually wait to give the vaccine until the illness resolves.
Side Effects of Tetanus-Diphtheria Vaccine
Sometimes the injection site is sore, swollen, and red. Serious side effects are rare and include severe allergic reactions.
If Guillain-Barré syndrome Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) Guillain-Barré syndrome is a form of polyneuropathy causing muscle weakness, which usually worsens over a few days to weeks, then slowly improves or returns to normal on its own. With treatment... read more developed within 6 weeks after a tetanus vaccine was given, people should talk to their doctor about whether future vaccinations are advisable.
The following are some English-language resources that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Information statement about Td vaccine