What is it?
Tetanus-Diphtheria (also know as Td) is the name of the vaccine that protects against these two diseases simultaneously. Although the two diseases are different, after a primary series of three vaccinations, a single vaccination of this combination vaccine in an adult can provide protection against both diseases for up to 10 years.
What else should I know?
Tetanus (also known as lockjaw) is a potentially fatal disease that is caused by bacteria found in dirt, dust, soil and manure. The bacteria live all over the world and is as common in cities as it is in rural areas. The disease can occur in both humans and animals. Tetanus is also the only vaccine-preventable disease that is not contagious, meaning you cannot catch Tetanus from another person.
Diphtheria is an acute bacterial disease that can lead to breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis and death.
How are the diseases spread?
Tetanus occurs when dust or dirt comes in contact with an open wound. Tetanus enters the body through many kinds of wounds — from a pinprick to a deep wound. Common types of puncture wounds that can lead to serious Tetanus infections are body piercings, cuts, animal bites, scrapes, tattoos, lacerations, postsurgical wounds, splinters and injection drug use; however, any type of injury that breaks the skin can lead to an infection. It is the combination of injury + dirt + lack of vaccination that can cause illness or even death. It can take as little as two days or as long as three months for a Tetanus injection to set in. Once Tetanus is inside the bloodstream, the oxygen-free environment allows the bacteria to grow, resulting in severe muscle spasms.
Diphtheria is spread by human contact, usually through coughing, sneezing or touching. It usually takes two to five days for the disease to develop.
Symptoms of the diseases
Symptoms of Tetanus include headache, sweating, fever, difficulty swallowing and stiffness of the jaw (lockjaw) and abdominal muscles. Lockjaw is the most dangerous symptom because it can lead to death by suffocation.
Symptoms of Diphtheria include a runny nose similar to that of a common cold. Other symptoms include sore throat, loss of appetite and low-grade fever. In severe cases, Diphtheria causes an overall swelling of the neck and throat areas, resulting in a condition known as “bullneck.” The infection can progress and cause heart failure and death.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
Almost all people who get the Td vaccine have no problems from it; however, mild problems may occur. They include soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen (non-aspirin) may be used to reduce soreness. If these problems occur, they usually start within hours to a day or two after vaccination. They may last one to two days. Severe problems happen very rarely. They include a serious allergic reaction, deep, aching pain and muscle wasting in upper arm(s). This starts two days to four weeks after the shot and may last many months.
Is the vaccine available on campus?
The Td vaccine is available in UHS. All students interested in the vaccine will be required to sign an informed consent to receive the vaccine. Students younger than 18 years of age must have the signed consent of a parent or legal guardian. The cost of the vaccine is $20. Interested students should call 985.493.2600 or visit the UHS office to schedule an appointment.