Lockjaw: The focus of infection lurks in the garden

Vaccination against tetanus is already recommended for children by the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) – vaccination is also particularly important for young people and adults. Pathogens can enter the body via contaminated wounds and then trigger cramps in the facial muscles, among other things.

The tetanus pathogens wait, for example, when playing in the sandbox or in the garden and can cause considerable harm not only to children, but also to young people and adults. This is how the vaccination against  tetanus works  .

Tetanus vaccination: basic immunization for infants

The STIKO is in favor of basic immunization in infancy. The vaccine is vaccinated with a 6-fold vaccine in combination with the vaccinations against diphtheria, whooping cough,  polio , Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) and  hepatitis  B.

Since June, the vaccination should be given in this series of successes:

  • The first vaccination should be given at the age of two months.
  • The second vaccination follows eight weeks later, usually in children at the age of four months.
  • The third vaccine dose is usually given at the age of eleven months. There should be at least six months between the second and third vaccination.

As a result, the vaccination should be refreshed at preschool age and every ten years thereafter. Tip: Check your vaccination card regularly so that you don’t miss the vaccination booster.

Possible side effects of the tetanus vaccination

The tetanus vaccination can also lead to possible vaccination reactions, which usually subside three days after the vaccination:

  • Redness and swelling at the injection site
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • chills
  • fatigue and exhaustion
  • headache and  body aches
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Fever
  • respiratory infections

In very rare cases, febrile seizures occur. Depending on the combination vaccine, different reactions can occur. Pediatricians also usually provide information about possible complications or side effects.

Tetanus: Lockjaw is so dangerous

The tetanus bacterium (Clostridium tetani) is usually found in soil and can enter the body through small wounds or bites. Adolescents who do a lot of sport in nature and outdoors and adults can also be affected.

The pathogen is distributed worldwide. In Germany, tetanus infections are rare due to the high vaccination rates, but vaccination is still worthwhile for this very reason. The sources of infection are still there.

After the bacteria have been absorbed by the body through a wound, the first symptoms usually become noticeable within a period of three days to three weeks:

  • spasms of the facial muscles
  • Trouble opening your mouth
  • spasms of the larynx
  • Cramps of the chest muscles

Chest cramps are particularly dangerous as they can lead to suffocation. Despite modern treatment options, around ten to 20 percent of patients still die – mostly from heart failure or shortness of breath.

Not the bacteria themselves, but the toxins they excrete are responsible for the severe course of the disease. Therefore, in unvaccinated individuals with large and dirty wounds, antibodies should be administered to render the freely circulating toxin ineffective. Antibiotics  can prevent the bacteria from spreading throughout the body.

Depending on the vaccination status, a booster of the tetanus vaccination is also given in the event of injuries.


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