This is a vaccine that decreases your risk of getting tetanus, also known as lockjaw, and diphtheria.
Tetanus (often called lockjaw) is a potentially life threatening disease caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani. The bacteria frequently live in the dirt or animal feces. They enter the body through a cut or wound, such as one caused by a dirty nail. Due to the widespread use of the Td vaccine (and other variations of this vaccine) tetanus and diphtheria are now relatively rare.
Tetanus (lockjaw) is characterized by painful muscle spasms that can spread throughout the body. (Muscle spasms in the jaw produce the classic "lockjaw.") The spasms can lead to muscle tears or broken bones. Other symptoms include:
Severe complications include airway obstruction, respiratory arrest, heart failure, pneumonia, brain damage due to lack of oxygen during spasms and death.
Diphtheria is characterized by:
Severe complications are due to the toxins made by the bacteria. They include inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis), paralysis, kidney damage and death.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get one dose of the tetanus (Td) vaccine. After that they should get a tetanus (Td) booster every ten years.
You should contact your healthcare provider if you are not up to date on your Td vaccine. Here is a list of questions you can ask during your appointment.
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