Rusty Nail Cause Tetanus? Does Tetanus Vaccination Prevents It?

Tetanus Shot: Why Do You Need Tetanus Toxoid Vaccine? - DoctorOnCall


Have you ever heard of tetanus? Tetanus is a deadly disease and it’s a disease that has no cure. One of the steps that can be done to protect yourself from tetanus is to get a vaccination. The tetanus vaccination serves to prevent tetanus. Before we dive deeper into the tetanus vaccine, let's find out a little bit more about tetanus.

Tetanus or known as kancing gigi by Malaysians is a disease that affects the nervous system and causes muscle spasms. The disease is caused by an infection of a bacteria called Clostridium tetani which can be found in soil, dust, and fertilizers. Among the symptoms of tetanus are:

  • Symptoms usually start with cramps in the jaw muscles (lockjaw)
  • Cramps also occur in other muscles such as respiratory muscles, neck, thighs, back, etc. 
  • Pain throughout the body due to muscle cramps
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Seizures
  • Changes in blood pressure

The disease does not spread through droplets from coughing or sneezing like the coronavirus. A person can be infected if there is a wound exposed to the soil or other objects contaminated with this bacteria. Many associate tetanus with rusty iron. Of course, injuries caused by rusty iron can cause tetanus, however, rust is not the cause. Iron objects such as nails, scissors, etc. are easily corroded when not stored properly and this causes Clostridium tetani to multiply easily on its surface. We can get tetanus without being exposed to rusty iron such as injury while cleaning animal pens for example. Children can also be infected if they get injured while playing outside. So does that mean we should not raise livestock or should we prohibit children from playing in the ground to avoid tetanus? Not at all, let's get to know the tetanus vaccine that can prevent you from getting this disease.

What Is Tetanus Vaccine?

You may be wondering why do we need a tetanus vaccination? What is the tetanus vaccine for? Isn't maintaining personal hygiene enough? 

Although tetanus is rare, for a person to get the disease is not impossible. 10-20% of patients who get tetanus will get fatal complications. As already mentioned, tetanus will cause muscle cramps including respiratory muscle spasms which will cause difficulty breathing. Therefore, this vaccine is very important in protecting you. 

Tetanus vaccine is one of the vaccines introduced in the National Immunization Schedule. To your knowledge, Clostridium tetani will release toxins that will affect the nervous system in the body. Scientists have created a tetanus vaccine that contains components of Clostridium tetani spores by removing its toxins which is known as tetanus toxoid. The vaccine will be given by injection at the shoulder. This vaccine can build up the immunity to fight against the bacteria if infected, thus reducing the risk of serious complications. Think you know about vaccines? Take this quiz to find out!

Types of Tetanus Vaccines

There are 4 types of vaccines that can work to protect you from tetanus or tooth decay.

Types of Vaccines

Targeted Diseases

Those Who Receive Injections


Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Infants as early as 6 weeks up to 6-year-olds


Diphtheria and Tetanus

Infants as early as 6 weeks up to 6-year-olds who cannot receive the vaccine pertussis


Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis

-Teenagers (11-12 years)


-Pregnant woman


Diphtheria and Tetanus

-Children aged 7 years and older and adults

Who Requires A Tetanus Vaccination?

Everyone needs to get protection by the use of the vaccine because tetanus can infect anyone regardless of age.

1. Infants and children under 6 years old

According to the National Immunization Schedule issued by the Ministry of Health Malaysia, infants aged 2, 3, and 5 months should get DTaP injection as a precautionary measure against this infection. At 18 months, they need a single booster dose as the vaccine will not give a lifelong protection against the infection as the immunity will wear off in time. Thus, the booster dose serves to increase the level of immunity to maintain the prevention of this disease.

If your child missed the last scheduled vaccination, the last vaccine can be taken between the age of 4-6 years. This is because DTaP is a vaccine that is suitable for children under 7 years of age only. More than 7 years old needs a different type of tetanus vaccine.

2. Children and adolescents

In between the age of 7 to 18 years, a teenager should get a single dose of Tdap or Td booster only at the age of 11 or 12 as a routine immunization schedule. This vaccine is expected to be able to boost the immunity that can last for 10 years. The next dose should be taken after 10 years and every 10 years onwards.

Usually, immunizations will be given at the school to make sure that every child is immunized. If your child misses an injection, they should get it at any nearby clinic.

3. Adults

An adult needs to get the adult tetanus vaccine, the Tdap or Td vaccine every 10 years. You will also need a tetanus vaccination if you’ve never been vaccinated as a child or it has been over 10 years after the last time you received a booster dose injection. How long does the tetanus vaccine last? Approximately 10 years. These injections should be renewed every 10 years to ensure that you are protected from a potentially deadly Clostridium tetani infection.

4. Pregnant Women

Pregnant women should get a booster dose injection in the third trimester. The tetanus vaccine for pregnant women will provide protection for the mother and the unborn baby from tetanus. In addition to protecting pregnant women, the TDaP vaccine is given to protect the unborn baby from Pertussis or whooping cough. Newborns can be infected with tetanus if the umbilical cord is cut using non-sterile equipment or as a result of poor umbilical cord care.

Those Who Cannot Get Tetanus Vaccine Injection

There are some conditions where tetanus injection should not be given because it can be harmful to health.

1. People who are allergic to the ingredients in the vaccine

2. Have had a bad reaction to the DTaP vaccine as a child.

You should tell your doctor if you have a history of seizures or severe pain and swelling after getting an injection. If you are sick, you will have to wait until you are well to get an injection.

Possible Side Effects

Usually, the effects of tetanus injection are mild and will heal after a few days. Among the side effects that can be possibly experienced are:

  • Pain, redness, and swelling in the injection site
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

The notion that this vaccine injection causes tetanus itself is untrue, so you don’t need to fear getting a tetanus vaccination.

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After reading this article, I hope that you understand a little about why tetanus vaccinations are important to maintain and protect your health. Apart from vaccine injections, wound care with proper treatment also plays a role in the prevention of the disease. Please take your child or family member to the doctor for treatment if you have a serious injury and make sure your family members get the tetanus vaccination is recommended. 


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