A tetanus vaccination is an immunization that protects against tetanus, a serious bacterial infection caused by Clostridium tetani. The bacteria produce a toxin that affects the nervous system, leading to severe muscle stiffness and spasms. The vaccine helps your immune system develop protection against this toxin.
In Canada, there are three types of tetanus-containing vaccines:
- DTaP: Diphtheria, Tetanus, and acellular Pertussis vaccine (for children under 7 years old)
- Tdap: Tetanus, reduced Diphtheria, and acellular Pertussis vaccine (for individuals 7 years and older)
- Td: Tetanus and reduced Diphtheria vaccine (for booster doses in adults)
In Canada, tetanus vaccination is recommended for everyone, starting with infants at 2 months of age, and followed by booster doses throughout life. Some specific groups, such as pregnant women, travelers, and healthcare workers, may have additional recommendations for vaccination.
According to Canadian guidelines, the recommended tetanus vaccination schedule is as follows:
- Infants and children: DTaP vaccine at 2, 4, 6, and 18 months, and between 4-6 years old.
- Adolescents: Tdap vaccine between 14-16 years old.
- Adults: Td vaccine booster every 10 years.
Yes, pregnant women can safely receive the Tdap vaccine, preferably between 27 and 32 weeks of gestation. The Tdap vaccine not only helps protect the mother and the newborn from tetanus, but it also offers protection against diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can be especially severe for infants. By receiving the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, the mother's immunity is passed on to the newborn, providing early protection against pertussis until the baby can receive their own vaccinations. This helps reduce the risk of severe complications, hospitalization, and even death associated with pertussis in young infants.
If you experience mild side effects, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers or apply a cold pack to the injection site. If you experience severe side effects or are concerned about any symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately.