How Long Do Tetanus Shots Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 10 years

Tetanus is a bacterial infection. It is caused by the spores of the bacteria Clostridium tetani. The spores of this bacteria can live in soil, saliva, and manure. This disease affects the nervous system adversely. Upon entering and invading the body, the bacteria start to produce toxic compounds(tetanospasmin) which result in very painful muscle contractions.

Tetanus is most commonly known as “Jawlock” disease as it particularly affects the muscles of the jaw and neck which causes difficulty in swallowing. The incubation period of the tetanus bacterium is usually 10 days. It may vary from 10-21 days. The symptoms start to become worse day by day. Talking about the treatment of tetanus, there is no such treatment yet discovered. There are steps for prevention and medication which can only manage the symptoms of tetanus. The best way of prevention is vaccination.

How Long Do Tetanus Shots Last?

A single tetanus shot does not provide lifelong protection. With time the protections begin to decrease. When it comes to the tetanus vaccine, a series of shots are needed. It is believed that one shot lasts for 10 years and a booster shot has to be taken after every 10 years.

It is also recommended that if an individual gets hurt by a rusted nail or anything that can have clostridium tetani on it, he/she should get another shot as soon as possible. The following table shows the vaccination recommended for people including children, adults, and pregnant women:-

Age GroupType Of Vaccine
1. Infants and childrenDTaP
2. Non vaccinated adultTdap
3. Pregnant women Tdap

Why Does Tetanus Shot Last For This Long?

Tetanus is a life-threatening disease. It causes multiple problems once it invades the body. It also may result in breaking the bones since the contractions and spasms are so strong. In order to get prevention from this life-threatening disease, vaccination is the way to go.

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A single shot of tetanus does not provide lifelong protection. It is believed that a single shot is effective for 10 years. This is because when vaccination is done, the agent that causes tetanus is injected inside the body in a very small amount. The amount is this small that it cannot cause the disease. The human body has a unique defense mechanism. Upon introduction of this tetanus agent, the immune system starts to produce antibodies.

These antibodies are responsible for providing protection when the actual bacteria enters the body. With time these antibodies start depleting and hence the effectiveness of the vaccine starts to decrease.

Conclusion

Tetanus is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani. It is also known as jaw lock disease because it affects the jaws severely. Upon invading the body the bacteria starts to release toxins which cause very strong muscular contractions and spasms which even may result in breakage on bones. Swallowing becomes very difficult for the person infected by tetanus.

There is no such cure of tetanus yet discovered. The only way to save oneself is through prevention and the prevention can be attained by vaccination and immunization. In this method, the bacteria or parts of bacteria are introduced into the body in their weakened form so that they cannot cause the disease. This results in int the formation of antibodies inside the human body. These antibodies are responsible for killing the bacteria when it enters the body in its disease-causing form.

Different vaccines are recommended for people of different age groups. The DTaP vaccine is recommended for infants and children and the Tdap vaccine is recommended for unvaccinated adults and pregnant ladies It is to be noted that a single shot of vaccine does not remain effective lifelong. The antibodies start depleting over time. It is advised to take booster shots after every 10 years. It is also suggested to get the booster shot if one has come in contact with anything that can have tetanus causing bacteria on it such as rusted nails, animal feces, etc.

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References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cei.12822
  2. https://stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/7420


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