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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 of tetanus shots include shoulder injuries, Brachial Neuritis, Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, Anaphylaxis, and other injuries. If vaccine injury victims suffered an adverse reaction or injury after receiving the tetanus vaccine, they may be entitled to compensation from a federal trust fund called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. It is important to call the doctor's office immediately if they 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. A stiff neck after tdap vaccines is another indicator of the above. These injuries initiate different side effects than a flu shot injury or TDaP vaccine injury. Chronic 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

Can a tetanus shot make you sick? 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. Shoulder and arm pain can be very unpleasant so be prepared to contact your doctor if the pain worsens.

  • Swelling of the arm

Another common side effect is swelling of the arm where the shot is given. Recipients can expect a bump on the arm after tetanus shot.  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

Serious 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.

  • Nodules

Sometimes, a small lump after tetanus shots at the injection site may persist for weeks or months. This should not be of concern and requires no treatment.

Will tetanus shot work after injury? In case of an injury that could result in tetanus, seeking medical attention within 24 hours is crucial if you have not received a tetanus booster shot in the last 5 years. It is important to note that the size of the wound does not determine the risk of tetanus.

It is important to understand the inherent dangers of Tetanus shot reactions and be ready to recognize all symptoms and side effects. If you are feeling sick after tetanus shot then seek medical attention!


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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, like a sore throat after tetanus shot, are very common, with approximately one in four (1 in 4) children experiencing them. Tetanus shot side effects in adults can be similar to those of children.

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, muscle spasms or body aches. 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: disease control. 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?

After Tetanus shot symptoms 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.

One possible reaction to Tetanus shots is 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 tetanus shot 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?

Can a tetanus shot make you feel sick? Most mild symptoms can be relieved relatively easily with pain medication, applied ice packs etc. Tetanus shot complications for SIRVA related injuries vary 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 vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis). Pertussis is more commonly known as whooping cough.

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How long does pain from a tetanus shot last?

The pain from tetanus vaccinations can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. For most people, the pain is mild and manageable. However, for some people, the pain can be quite severe. Talk to your doctor if you experience severe pain after getting a tetanus shot.


Tips after tetanus shot pain relief

After a tetanus shot, pain and swelling can be relieved with a cold compress. You can also take ibuprofen or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for pain relief. You may need to see your doctor if the pain and swelling are severe.


Tetanus shot injury compensation

If you or a loved one has suffered an adverse reaction, illness, or severe injury after receiving the tetanus vaccine, you may qualify for compensation from a federal program called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Complications of tetanus vaccinations are well documented. Call the national vaccine injury attorneys at My Vaccine Lawyer for more information. Not only is the phone call free, but our representation comes at no cost to you.

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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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