Tetanus and Diphtheria Booster: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A diphtheria and tetanus (Td) vaccine protects people against diphtheria and tetanus (lockjaw). You need a Td shot every 10 years to help prevent these diseases, which can be fatal.

You may also need a Td booster if you get a puncture wound or dirty cut. A booster is another dose of the vaccine.

A booster called Tdap (or Dtap) is given to teens. Tdap (Dtap) includes the vaccine against pertussis (whooping cough). All teens and adults who never had Tdap or Dtap also need one dose of this vaccine.

Common side effects of Td vaccination include soreness in the arm where you got the shot and a mild fever. These usually occur within 3 days of the shot and last a short time.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve), if your arm is sore after the shot. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 18. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the sore area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
    • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over your body.
    • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Passing out (losing consciousness). Or you may feel very light-headed or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.
  • You have a seizure.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • A rash or hives (raised, red areas on the skin).
    • Itching.
    • Swelling.
    • Belly pain, nausea, or vomiting.
  • You have a high fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: November 10, 2016