What is tetanus?

The tetanus disease is caused by a certain bacteria and its spores. In a wound, the bacteria can multiply and excrete toxins. This then leads to damage to nerve cells and powerful muscle spasms. Paralysis of the respiratory muscles is fatal due to choking.

Tetanus is not transmitted from one person to another. However, there are spores from the bacteria all over the world, primarily in road dust, in the ground, even in potting compost, wood and faeces. Only the smallest amount of dirt in a small wound can cause an infection.

Signs of a tetanus condition

Around 4 to 14 days after infection, the first signs of the illness will appear, such as sweating, dragging pain from the wound and sometimes even stiffness. This is followed by muscle spasms, primarily lockjaw and difficulty swallowing. Paralysis of the respiratory muscles can be life-threatening.

In countries with a modern vaccination system there are only a few reported cases of tetanus. Treatment is provided in the intensive care unit. Those suffering with the condition receive antibodies against tetanus, which are taken from the blood of vaccinated persons, antibiotics and medication to relieve the symptoms. Nevertheless, today 3 in 10 people infected still die from the illness.

Vaccination advice for children

The tetanus vaccination is part of the free child vaccination programme in Austria. The vaccination is part of a 6-part vaccination with diphtheria, pertussis, haemophilus influenzae, poliomyelitis and hepatitis B.

Vaccination schedule

First vaccination: At 3 months Second vaccination: At 5 months Third vaccination: At 12 – 14 months Fourth vaccination*: At 7 – 9 years old *as a 4-part vaccination with diphtheria, pertussis and polio

Vaccination advice for adults

The booster vaccination is best given in the form of a combination vaccination, which also protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and also polio.

Booster vaccinations:
• Every 10 years (those under 60)
• Every 5 years (those over 60)

Was your last vaccination more than 20 years ago? Then you should have your level of protection checked with a blood test after a booster vaccination or even have a second vaccination with an interval of 4 – 8 weeks.

In the absence of basic immunisation: 2 vaccinations with an interval of 1 to 2 months, third vaccination 6-12 months after the second vaccination.

There is a 100% level of protection.

Vaccination advice for pregnant women

Tetanus no longer appears in new-born babies (“neonatal tetanus”) in Europe. The mother’s antibodies protect the baby, but this is, of course, only possible, if the mother has been vaccinated herself. The vaccination when pregnant is possible and important! The vaccine used should also protect against pertussis.

Information and consultancy service

Not yet vaccinated against tetanus? Or have not been vaccinated in a long time? Having trouble finding your vaccination pass?

We would be happy to help you decide which vaccinations are best for you!
Book an appointment online or make an appointment on the phone with the City of Vienna vaccination service: Tel. +43 1 – 1450