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Tetanus (Lockjaw)

What is it?

A disease caused by bacteria that affects the body's muscles and nerves; causes severe muscle spasms, breathing and heart problems, and may lead to death.


Muscle spasms in the jaw, difficulty swallowing, and stiffness or pain in the muscles of the neck, shoulders, or back. The spasms can spread to the muscles of the abdomen, upper arms, and thighs.

How does it spread?

Cannot be spread from person to person. The only way to get tetanus is from a skin wound that becomes contaminated by the tetanus bacteria, which is often found in soil.


DTaP, Tdap, Td,
Babies need three shots of DTaP
Young children need two booster shots to maintain that protection through early childhood.
CDC recommends shots at the following ages:
2 months
4 months
6 months
15 through 18 months
4 through 6 years
Booster, 11-12
Booster every 10 years

In the 1950s, more than 500 people contracted tetanus in the U.S. in a given year. That number plummeted in the 1970s when a vaccine was developed. The tetanus vaccine is highly effective. Reported tetanus cases have declined more than 95%, and deaths from tetanus have declined more than 99% in the United States since 1947.