DC Vaccination Services - Tetanus

What is Tetanus?

Tetanus is a serious but rare condition caused by bacteria (Clostridium tetani) getting into an open wound. Tetanus bacteria can survive for a long time outside the body and are commonly found in soil and manure of animals such as horses or cows. Once tetanus bacteria enter the body through an open wound, they quickly multiply and release a toxin that attacks the nerves of the brain and spinal cord causing symptoms such as muscle stiffness and spasms. Tetanus prone wounds include the following:
  • certain animal bites and scratches
  • puncture type wounds in a contaminated environment e.g., gardening injuries
  • eye injuries
  • wounds containing foreign bodies.
  • bone fractures with broken skin
  • wounds in people with bloodstream infections
  • body piercings, tattoos and injections
  • injecting contaminated drugs
Tetanus is found worldwide but is more common is resource-poor countries with low vaccination rates. Tetanus is not spread by human-to-human contact.

Who is at risk from Tetanus?

Most people who get tetanus have either not been vaccinated against it or did not complete the entire vaccination schedule.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of tetanus usually start around 4 to 21 days after infection. On average, they start after around 10 days.

The main symptoms of tetanus are:

  • stiffness in your jaw muscles (lockjaw), which can make it difficult to open your mouth
  • painful muscle spasms, which can make it difficult to breathe and swallow
  • a high temperature
  • sweating
  • a rapid heartbeat
If it's not treated, the symptoms can get worse over the following hours and days.

Can I use the DC tetanus Vaccination Service?

There is a vaccine for cholera, but most people do not need it. It is usually only recommended if either:
  • You are travelling to an are where cholera is common, and you will be vising remote places without access to medical care
  • You are an aid or disaster worker going to an area where a cholera outbreak is likely.
The vaccine is given as a drink. For adults, 2 doses (given 1 to 6 weeks apart) can provide for up to 2 years protection. You need to have both doses at least a week before departure. Cholera may not be suitable for:

  • Those with previous allergic reaction to chloera vaccine or any of its ingredients
  • Those with weakened immune system
  • Predisposed neurological conditions

  • Those with acute gastrointestinal illness or high temperature may need to postpone taking the vaccines until acute illness is settled.
    Your DC pharmacist will double check your suitability for the vaccine.

    What are the side effects to the tetanus Vaccine?

    The 3-in-1 teenage booster (Revaxis®) is a very safe vaccine and is used widely in the UK as part of the national immunisation programme.

    As with all vaccines, more than 1 in 10 people may experience minor side effects, such as swelling, redness or tenderness where the injection is given. Sometimes a small painless lump develops, but it usually disappears in a few weeks. Other common reactions include:

    • feeling dizzy
    • feeling or being sick (nausea and vomiting)
    • high temperature
    • headache

    Between 1 in 100 and 1 in 1000 may experience swollen glands and muscle pains and very rarely (fewer than 1 in 1000) may experience joint pains and allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis. The healthcare professional administering the vaccine will be fully trained in how to deal with the severe allergic reactions and most people recover completely with treatment.

    What happens next?

    1. Book a virtual consultation via online portal
    2. A DC pharmacist will review your suitability for the yellow fever vaccine service
    3. Receive vaccine at our centres

    How long will this take?

    The first consultation will take 15 – 30 minutes (depending on your past medical history). The vaccination appointment will take 30 minutes (including a 15 minutes observed wait in case of severe reaction)

    How much does the service cost?