- Tetanus (sometimes called lockjaw) is a serious disease caused by bacteria. The actual disease is caused when the bacteria release a toxin, or poison, into a person’s body.
- Tetanus gets into the body through cuts or wounds. Tetanus can also infect someone in less commonly considered wounds, such as skin ulcers, scrapes, or insect or animal bites.
- Tetanus can cause extremely painful muscle cramps all over the body. This disease can be deadly. In the most common form of tetanus, the first sign is spasm of the jaw muscles, followed by stiffness of the neck, and difficulty in swallowing.
- Tetanus bacteria are in the soil, so people who work, garden or play outside can get infected even from a minor injury, such as a puncture from a thorn.
- Vaccination is the most effective step you can take to be protected from this serious disease.
Tetanus Vaccine Schedule
All children should get 5 doses of DTaP (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis) vaccine, beginning when they are 2 months old. If your child misses a dose or gets behind schedule, make sure they get the next dose as soon as possible. Older children, teens, and adults should receive the Tdap (Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis) vaccine designed for people age 7 years and older, and after that, a Td or Tdap booster dose every 10 years. Consult your healthcare provider if you have a deep or dirty wound: you may need an additional tetanus vaccine booster dose if it has been more than 5 years since your most recent dose.
Find fact sheets for parents and children, resources, multimedia, and more from CDC.
Five doses of a DTaP shot for children and one Tdap shot for preteens are recommended by doctors as the best way to protect against tetanus. Learn more about meningococcal and vaccines from CDC. A Spanish-language version is also available.
Find easy-to-understand vaccine information for yourself or your loved ones, from the Department of Health & Human Services.
Questions and answers about diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and vaccines from the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Tetanus is a serious and deadly disease caused by bacteria. The bacteria that cause tetanus live in dirt, dust, and soil. Protect yourself from tetanus. Get vaccinated.
People of any age can feel a bit anxious about getting a shot. Some may be so anxious that they avoid vaccination…even when they know it’s important. Learn more about simple ways to help any child or adult feel better and more confident when getting vaccinated.