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The 5 Worst Side Effects of the Tetanus Shot

The 5 Worst Side Effects of the Tetanus Shot

Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is a serious bacterial infection caused by the Clostridium tetani bacterium. If you suffer from this condition, your body will undergo some really unpleasant side effects that can last for years to come. These five side effects of the tetanus shot are especially important to be aware of before going in for your next vaccination.

1) Nausea

Nausea is among one of the most common side effects associated with tetanus shots, according to an April 2013 study published in The BMJ. Nausea tends to occur shortly after injection and may increase if it's not treated. Although nausea can make it difficult to complete your vaccination series, vomiting right after a shot doesn't necessarily preclude you from receiving other vaccines in future sessions. In fact, if your stomach isn't empty when you get vaccinated, you'll have less risk for post-vaccination nausea.

2) Swelling at the injection site

It is common to experience some mild redness, pain, and swelling at your injection site. Itching or irritation around your injection site may also occur. Use ice packs for about 10 minutes on each side at least 15 minutes before getting a tetanus shot to help minimize these side effects. You can also ask your doctor about an anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve). Get a tetanus shot early in your pregnancy—or wait until after you've given birth. If you're pregnant, you should avoid getting vaccinations.

3) Allergic reaction

This is probably one of the most common side effects, occurring in a majority of those who receive their first tetanus shot. You may get hives or other symptoms along with itching, swelling, and redness at your injection site. If you’re already allergic to vaccine components like gelatin or egg proteins, you might notice additional allergic reactions after receiving a tetanus shot.

4) Diarrhea

Diarrhea occurs in almost 30 percent of tetanus shot recipients, according to a 2003 study published in The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics. If you experience diarrhea after receiving a tetanus shot, consider it your body’s warning sign that something’s wrong. Stop taking vaccines for at least three months, then visit your doctor for a physical examination and blood tests to determine if you have an underlying condition.

5) Anaphylaxis

Some reactions to the tetanus shot are short-term, such as anaphylaxis (commonly referred to as a severe allergic reaction). Anaphylaxis occurs within 30 minutes of receiving a vaccination and includes hives, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, and swelling. If any of these symptoms occur after receiving a tetanus shot, call 911 immediately. The best way to prevent allergic reactions is by taking antihistamines before your immunization.

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