Clinical guidance

You’re due for a tetanus booster

Published January 1, 2022

Why should I get a tetanus booster?

Getting a tetanus booster every 10 years is the best way to stay protected against tetanus. Tetanus, also known as “lockjaw,” is a bacterial infection that can cause your neck and jaw muscles to lock, making it hard and painful to open your mouth or swallow.

Most people in the U.S. get vaccinated against tetanus as a child. But vaccine effectiveness goes down over time, which is why a booster is so important.

What do I need to know about the tetanus booster?

There are two types of tetanus boosters available for adults. The Td shot protects against tetanus and diphtheria, and the Tdap shot protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough. Both types of boosters are usually a single shot in the arm.

When should I get a tetanus booster?

You should get a tetanus booster every 10 years. People who experience certain injuries (like stepping on a rusty nail) will need a tetanus shot within 5 years.

Where can I get a tetanus booster?

The tetanus booster is widely available (you don’t even need a prescription or provider’s order). Your best bet is to get it at a pharmacy near you.

Are there any side effects to getting the tetanus booster?

Some people experience side effects, like pain, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, low fever, feeling tired, and nausea. Any side effects are usually mild and temporary, especially when compared to symptoms of tetanus.