When to get a tetanus vaccination

A bleeding wound must of course always be cleaned thoroughly. Furthermore, it must be determined how deep the wound is and whether it is necessary for someone to be vaccinated. But what exactly is tetanus and how can you prevent getting tetanus.


Tetanus is a serious condition caused by the toxin of Clostridium tetani bacteria. These bacteria can survive for a long time in the soil, street dirt, manure and feces. If someone gets a wound because, for example, he has fallen on the street or has been cut with a dirty knife, he can become infected with the bacteria. This bacterium will multiply after the wound has closed and then release toxic substances. These toxins cause muscle cramps, mainly of the jaw, swallowing and breathing muscles, and can lead to death in a short time. If someone does not end up in the intensive care unit of the hospital very quickly, recovery is almost impossible.
Fortunately, this disease is very rare.


Tetanus can be prevented by vaccination. The patient is then injected with an inactivated tetanus bacteria. The body will produce antibodies against this. If someone does become infected with the bacteria, the body will recognize it and it will be broken down.


Babies are fully vaccinated in the first year of life. The complete vaccination consists of 4 injections. A booster vaccination is given at the age of nine. The vaccination is valid for ten years. Children are therefore fully protected until they are nineteen. If someone sustains a wound after the age of nineteen, it will be necessary to determine whether a tetanus vaccination is necessary. If this is the case, one injection is given.

For which wounds a vaccination is required

The tetanus bacteria reproduce without oxygen. When oxygen is added, the bacteria die. So a wound must be deep to survive. This is the reason why no vaccination is required for superficial abrasions.
Vaccination should be considered for the following wounds :

  • With a dirty wound
  • bite from an animal
  • the circumstances where the wound occurred. In a clean kitchen, a deep wound is less likely to become infected than a small cut from a dirty pocket knife.
  • the treatment of the wound, a wound that is properly cleaned immediately, also gives less chance of infection than a wound that has not been treated.
  • when someone was last vaccinated. If this was less than 10 years ago, no vaccination is required. If this was more than 10 years ago, one vaccination is required.
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