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  • What is a tetanus shot and what does it do? Tetanus shot: You can help prevent tetanus by having all of your recommended immunizations. There are three different combination immunizations that include a vaccine for tetanus. DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis). This immunization is given in a series of five shots beginning at age 2 months and ending between ages 4 and 6 years. Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis). This is the first booster shot for tetanus and is recommended for children between ages 11 and 12 years who have completed the DTaP vaccination series. Teens or adults who have never had the Tdap vaccine should talk to their doctors about getting it for their next tetanus booster. Td (tetanus and diphtheria). This vaccine is given as a booster shot every 10 years. If you have a dirty cut or wound and have not had a tetanus shot in the last 5 years, have a tetanus shot within 48 hours. Some people may need tetanus immune globulin (TIG) for a wound that is at high risk for developing tetanus. The immune globulin is usually only needed if you have not (or do not know whether you have) completed the tetanus vaccination series. Tetanus immunization protects against tetanus (lockjaw), a bacterial infection that can occur when tetanus bacteria get in a wound (break in the skin or mucous membrane). Tetanus bacteria usually are found in the soil, especially dirty areas, such as areas with animal feces. The dirtier the wound, the higher the risk of tetanus. However, tetanus can also develop in a clean wound. Tetanus bacteria enter the body through skin wounds and thrive only in the absence of oxygen. So, the deeper and narrower the wound and the less oxygen around the wound, the greater the possibility of tetanus. Preventing tetanus infection is important, because tetanus is often fatal.

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