All content below is taken in its entirety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Td vaccine information statement (VIS) -- www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/td.html.
Page last updated: August 6, 2021.
Why get vaccinated?
Td vaccine can prevent tetanus and diphtheria.
Tetanus enters the body through cuts or wounds. Diphtheria spreads from person to person.
- TETANUS (T) causes painful stiffening of the muscles. Tetanus can lead to serious health problems, including being unable to open the mouth, having trouble swallowing and breathing, or death.
- DIPITHERIA (D) can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, or death.
Td is only for children 7 years and older, adolescents, and adults.
Td is usually given as a booster dose every 10 years, or after 5 years in the case of a severe and dirty wound or burn.
Another vaccine, called "Tdap," may be used instead of Td. Tdap protects against pertussis, also known as "whooping cough" in addition to tetanus and diphtheria.
Td may be given at the same time as other vaccines.
Talk with your health care provider
Tell your vaccination provider if the person getting the vaccine:
- Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of any vaccine that protects against tetanus or diphtheria, or has any severe, life-threatening allergies
- Has ever had Guillain Barré Syndrome (also called "GBS")
- Has had severe pain or swelling after a previous dose of any vaccine that protects against tetanus or diphtheria
In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone Td vaccination until a future visit.
People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting Td vaccine.
Your health care provider can give you more information.
Risks of a vaccine reaction
Pain, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, mild fever, headache, feeling tired, and nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomachache sometimes happen after Td vaccination.
People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy, or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.
As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.
What if there is a serious problem?
An allergic reaction could occur after the vaccinated person leaves the clinic. If you see signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness), call 9-1-1 and get the person to the nearest hospital.
For other signs that concern you, call your health care provider.
Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your health care provider will usually file this report, or you can do it yourself. Visit the VAERS website at vaers.hhs.gov or call 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff members do not give medical advice.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines. Claims regarding alleged injury or death due to vaccination have a time limit for filing, which may be as short as two years. Visit the VICP website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccine-compensation/index.html or call 1-800-338-2382 to learn about the program and about filing a claim.
How can I learn more?
- Ask your provider.
- Call your local or state health department.
- Visit the website of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for vaccine package inserts and additional information at www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/vaccines.
Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Call 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO) or
- Visit CDC's website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines.
Centers for Disease Control and website. Vaccine information statements (VISs): Td (tetanus, diphtheria) VIS. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/td.html. Updated August 6, 2021. Accessed August 12, 2021.
Review Date 8/6/2021
Updated by: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.