Tetanus, often referred to as lockjaw, is a bacterial infection that causes painful muscle spasms and may lead to death. Tetanus is only contracted through a cut or wound that becomes infected through contact with contaminated metal, dirt, or soil. One of the most common ways individuals get tetanus is through puncture wounds caused by dirty nails, glass, knives, or other unsterile sharp objects.
When the bacteria are given time to travel through the bloodstream and to the nervous system, this is when tetanus symptoms begin. Common early symptoms of tetanus include headache, muscle stiffness, fever, palpitations, muscle spasms, difficulty swallowing, and restlessness.
When you go to the emergency room in Wisconsin after getting a deep puncture wound, you will be asked if you’re current on your tetanus shot. If you’re not current, you may be offered a vaccine. Tetanus vaccines are generally safe and will prevent you from getting tetanus, but these vaccinations also come with risks. Most hospitals, unfortunately, will not tell you about those risks in detail.
The Inherent Risks of the Tetanus Vaccine
There are a few different types of tetanus vaccinations on the market. All protect against other ailments in addition to tetanus. The most common type protects against diphtheria and pertussis in addition to tetanus. The childhood variant of this vaccine is referred to as DTaP and is given to children under 7 over 5 doses.
The adult/teenager variant for the same vaccine is referred to as Tdap. Tdap is a single dose vaccination and is generally recommended once throughout an individual’s adulthood. As mentioned above, if an individual is not current with their Tdap vaccine when going to the doctor after a puncture wound, they will usually be offered it.
Both the DTaP and Tdap vaccines come with a few serious risks. Severe complications include the following:
- Permanent brain damage
- Coma/lowered consciousness
- Serious allergic reactions
Other types of tetanus vaccines protect against diphtheria in addition to tetanus. These are generally referred to as DT and Td. DT is given to children younger than 7 years old while Td is given to older children and adults. Severe complications of both vaccines include the following:
- Severe rashes and fever
- Serious allergic reactions such as hives, swelling of the mouth, and difficulty breathing
- Nervous system impairments like cochlear lesion, brachia plexus neuropathies, or Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)
- Paralysis of the radial or recurrent nerves
It’s important to note that in most cases, all four types of tetanus vaccines are usually safe. Serious complications like the ones noted above are rare but do occur. If you are planning to get a tetanus vaccine or get one for your child, be aware of the risks and know what symptoms to look out for.
If you or someone you love has experienced any of the above ailments after having a routine tetanus vaccination, you may be eligible to file a claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Filing a vaccine injury claim may allow your family to receive much-needed financial compensation that can go towards recovery costs, loss of wage costs, pain and suffering costs, and more.
At Urban & Taylor, we can pair you with an experienced vaccine injury lawyer who can tell you the merits of your case and guide you through the entire process. We help clients file from anywhere in the United States. Contact our Milwaukee law office to learn more.