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Should I get a Tetanus Shot During Pregnancy?

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  • Written By: Lindsey Rivas
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2016
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Most medical experts recommend that you get a tetanus shot during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth, as long as it is in accordance to the routine vaccination schedule. There are some situations in which you should not receive a tetanus shot, such as if you are allergic to any components of the vaccine. There are a few side effects with the vaccine, although it is considered to be safe for your fetus. Getting vaccinated protects both you and your infant from becoming infected with the potentially fatal disease.

A tetanus shot is commonly combined with the vaccine for diphtheria and pertussis, known as a TDaP vaccine. In most developed countries, the vaccine is received as an infant and then administered again every ten years as an adult. It is 95% effective in preventing the disease and allows the body to produce antibodies without having to actually become infected. The tetanus vaccine is composed of toxoids, which are chemically changed proteins from the bacteria that cause the disease, so it is considered to be safe during pregnancy.

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If you are unsure of your immunization status or were immunized more than ten years ago, then you should get the shot. Healthcare professionals will usually recommend getting it during the second or third trimester, and it will usually not include the component for pertussis if given during pregnancy. If your last tetanus shot was less than ten years ago, you will typically get a tetanus shot post-partum, and if it was less than two years ago, a medical professional might wait longer to give you the shot. In addition, if you get a deep cut or wound that puts you at risk for tetanus while you are pregnant, a healthcare provider may decide to administer the tetanus vaccine immediately, depending on your immunization history.

There are some cases in which you should not receive a tetanus shot during pregnancy. It is not a good idea to get the shot within two years of your most recent one. Also, if you are allergic to any components in the shot or have had a reaction to it in the past, it is generally accepted that the risks outweigh the benefits of receiving the vaccine. You should ask a medical professional before getting a tetanus shot if your parents or siblings have had seizures after receiving a tetanus shot, you have unstable brain problems, or you are moderately to severely ill.

If you get a tetanus shot during pregnancy, you might experience a few side effects. It is possible to have a low-grade fever, soreness and swelling at the injection site, or allergic reactions. There is no evidence of risk to the fetus, however, since it is not a live vaccine.

When you are immunized with a tetanus shot, the antibodies pass through the placenta, so your immunity passes to your infant. This can prevent your child from getting infected with a potentially fatal disease, as tetanus has a high mortality rate in infants. The disease is caused by bacteria that are present in soil and enter the body through a dirty cut or wound, such as an umbilical cord stump. Infants who get tetanus experience muscle spasms and stiffness, convulsions, and have difficulty swallowing. Even with treatment, many infants do not survive the complications from this disease.

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tdeamicis
Post 3

Fortunately, even the CDC admits that this TDaP/DTaP vaccine make those who get it "silent carriers" able to spread the disease vaccinated against. And the NYT recently stated that animals were spreading pertussis after they were vaccinated. I would make sure to not get this after you deliver, otherwise you are making it more likely to give the infant pertussis during a time when they can't cough. Instead you can take high doses of good quality vitamin C (not ascorbic acid) and with that, you can't get pertussis.

Per VAERs, this DTaP/TDaP is one of the most dangerous vaccines, with the most risks. Ultimately you have to decide how likely it is that you will get a deep puncture

wound that doesn't bleed, and that has manure in the wound. If you aren't going to clean the wound, then you might need the vaccine. If you are going to clean the wound, allow it to get oxygen, allow it to be able to bleed, and properly clean out the wound, then there is no need to get the tetanus vaccine.

If you go to the hospital with a wound, and they offer the vaccine, skip it. If the hospital was really worried about tetanus, they would give you the Tetanus Immunoglobbin (TIG) instead, because the vaccine won't help for this exact issue you are dealing with now.

MrsWinslow
Post 2

@SailorJerry - You're right, but neither you nor the article really mentioned the importance of the "P" component. Pertussis can be fatal for newborns, and when they catch it, it is often from an unvaccinated caregiver. (They can get tetanus, but since newborns don't spend a lot of time walking barefoot in barnyards, they usually don't!)

Currently, a pertussis vaccine alone is not available; I asked for one when my son was born and was told I had to get the TDaP (ouch! love those side effects of the tetanus shot).

What I'm getting at is, if you are unsure of your vaccination status and you're already pregnant, make sure to discuss with your doctor whether to get the TDaP or TD while pregnant, or to wait until your baby is born.

SailorJerry
Post 1

The best thing, of course, is to get a TDaP, if you need one, before you become pregnant--then you won't have to worry about getting a tetanus shot while pregnant. People think about getting on prenatal vitamins, quitting smoking, and stopping drinking while trying to conceive, but making sure your immunizations (all of them--the MMR is even more important if you missed a booster as a kid) are up-to-date is such a good idea.

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