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Tetanus Shot Side Effects and Injuries

And other adverse reactions caused by the vaccine.

Tetanus shots can cause pain and injuries such as frozen shoulder bursitis, and tendonitis. Tetanus shot injuries are common in the Vaccine Injury Court.


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Tetanus shot pain and vaccine injuries

Tetanus shot pain and adverse reactions are common following vaccine administration. In severe cases, various side effects include shoulder injuries, Brachial Neuritis, Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, Anaphylaxis, and other injuries. If you suffered an adverse reaction or injury after receiving the tetanus vaccine, you may be entitled to compensation from a federal trust fund called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. It is important to call your doctor's office immediately if you are suffering severe symptoms following a vaccine administration.


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Hear Cheryl's Vaccine Injury Story

Cheryl suffered SIRVA (shoulder injury related to vaccine administration) following a flu shot. Her vaccine injury claim was filed in the VICP by vaccine lawyer Max Muller where she obtained a large cash settlement for her pain and suffering, lost wages and out of pocket medical expenses.

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What is the tetanus shot?

Tetanus vaccines are administered to prevent a tetanus infection which is a bacterial infection. Sometimes referred to as Lockjaw, it is a serious bacterial infection that affects your nervous system, leading to painful muscle contractions, particularly of your jaw and neck muscles. These injuries initiate different side effects than a flu shot injury or TDaP vaccine injury. Tetanus can interfere with your ability to breathe and ultimately threaten your life. Tetanus bacteria can be found in soil, dust, and animal feces making young children a susceptible target. Tetanus shots are a part of the childhood vaccine schedule, which calls for four injections between two (2) months and four-to-six (4 to 6) years of age with a tetanus booster provided at 11 or 12 years of age. Adults generally have the option of one (1) booster shot every 10 years thereafter.


What is in the tetanus shot?

The TENIVAC Tetanus vaccine, made by Sanofi Pasteur, Ltd., is made up of the following ingredients (not in order of quantity):

  • Aluminum phosphate
  • Formaldehyde
  • Sodium chloride
  • Water for injection

The Tetanus and Diphtheria Toxoids vaccine, made by Mass Biologics, is made up of the following ingredients (not in order of quantity):

  • Aluminum adjuvant
  • Formaldehyde
  • Thimerosal

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Tetanus Shot Side Effects

Mild side effects associated with the tetanus vaccination are very common and typically include the following:

  • Pain, tenderness, or redness at the injection site

One of the most common side effects of the tetanus shot is pain and redness at the injection site. This pain is typically mild and goes away within a few days.

  • Swelling of the arm

Another common side effect is swelling of the arm where the shot is given. Swelling, too, is usually mild and should resolve within a few days.

  • Fever

A small percentage of people may develop a fever after receiving the tetanus shot. If this occurs, it is usually a mild fever and goes away on its own.

  • Headache

Some people may also experience a headache after getting the tetanus shot. Again, this is usually mild and should go away on its own.

  • Nausea or vomiting

Many people may feel nauseous or vomit after receiving the tetanus shot. If this occurs, it is usually short-lived and does not require medical treatment.

  • Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions are rare but possible side effects of a tetanus shot. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include swelling, hives, difficulty breathing, and dizziness.


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Children can also exhibit fussiness, non-stop crying, a high fever, and seizures.

Reaction to the tetanus vaccine is common and differs somewhat between children and adults. Mild side effects are very common, with approximately one in four (1 in 4) children experiencing them. Some of these are common in adults too.

More serious side effects stemming from the tetanus vaccine include:

Tetanus immunization can also cause Brachial Neuritis, commonly referred to as Parsonage-Turner Syndrome ("PTS"). This condition causes paralysis throughout the shoulder muscles accompanied by extreme pain or muscle spasms. Although pain and treatment can vary between individuals, Parsonage-Turner Syndrome can last as long as two (2) years and lead to irreversible muscle deterioration.

Why does a tetanus shot hurt?

A tetanus shot may hurt for several reasons. Firstly, the injection itself can be uncomfortable. Secondly, the vaccine stimulates an inflammatory response, leading to pain and swelling. However, it is important to bear in mind that the discomfort is usually temporary and is outweighed by the vaccine's benefits. The tetanus vaccine is highly effective at preventing the disease, which can cause serious health problems. Therefore, although a tetanus shot may hurt, it is still important to get vaccinated. If the pain from a tetanus shot is persistent, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

How can a tetanus shot injury happen?

A Tetanus shot can cause a SIRVA injury, also known as a Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration. Proper technique is critical for intramuscular vaccines such as the tetanus shot. Specifically, the Center for Disease Control's medical advice for proper administration suggests that the needle should be inserted at a 90-degree angle to the skin, as close to the deltoid muscle as possible to help avoid adverse events. While this may seem fool-proof, mistakes are common and can lead to tendonitis and other musculoskeletal injuries in the shoulder and arm. Improper vaccine administration can allow for the needle to cause damage to the nerves, muscles and cause other severe problems in the subcutaneous soft tissue. Additionally, many inactivated vaccines (including the tetanus vaccine) contain an adjuvant. Adjuvants are vaccine components that enhance the immune response to an antigen. These components can cause a local reaction to an improperly placed needle, causing pain, redness, painful muscle spasms, and swelling.

Tetanus shots can also cause Anaphylaxis. Although adverse reactions to the tetanus vaccine are mild and normally limited to the injection site, immunoglobulin-mediated reactions do occur when the immune system releases a flood of chemicals in response to the tetanus toxoid. These chemicals cause an onslaught of severe and life-threatening symptoms throughout the body, including a drop in blood pressure and constricted airways. We have also represented clients who have suffered from Brachial Neuritis and or Parsonage-Turner Syndrome. Inflammation of the nerves of the brachial plexus results from an immune-mediated inflammatory response to some infection or environmental trigger that damages those nerves. These “triggers'' can include immunizations such as the tetanus vaccine.


How long do side effects of the tetanus shot last?

For SIRVA related injuries, each injury varies greatly in severity, and complete resolution of symptoms can occur anywhere six (6) months or multiple years. Some clients even report that their SIRVA symptoms never completely disappear. For Anaphylaxis, most cases are mild and last for approximately five (5) to thirty (30) minutes. However, more severe anaphylactic reactions may last for several days. In the case of Brachial Neuritis or Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, nerve injuries normally take between one (1) and three (3) years to resolve completely.

How long does the tetanus vaccine last?

The protection provided by the tetanus vaccine typically lasts for 10 years, but in some cases, it may last longer. The tetanus vaccine is usually given as part of a combination vaccine, such as the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) vaccine or the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis).

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I reached out to My Vaccine Lawyer after confirming I suffered from SIRVA. They were so helpful, understanding and thorough throughout the process. They were quick to respond, always answered the phone and I feel they fought to get me what I was entitled to. If you suffered from an injury then please call My Vaccine Lawyer. They will take care of you!

- Melissa Heffley, SIRVA Client



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