Why get immunised against tetanus?

Tetanus is a serious disease that causes severe muscle spasms, especially in the neck and jaw – this is called lockjaw.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from tetanus.

Who should get immunised against tetanus?

Anyone who wants to protect themselves against tetanus can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.

Tetanus immunisation is recommended for:

  • children aged 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 18 months, 4 years, and between 10 and 15 years (at school), for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
  • pregnant women in the third trimester of every pregnancy, as part of the combination vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis)
  • 50 year old people who have not had a tetanus vaccine in the past 10 years
  • people aged 65 or more, if they haven’t had a tetanus vaccine in the past 10 years
  • people who are travelling overseas, if they haven’t had a tetanus vaccine in the past 10 years
  • people who have a tetanus-prone wound. This is any wound that is not a clean, minor cut, if they haven’t had a tetanus vaccine in the past 5 years
  • anyone who did not have tetanus vaccines during childhood.

People under 20 years old, refugees and other humanitarian entrants of any age, can get tetanus vaccines for free under the NIP. This is if they did not receive the vaccines in childhood. This is called catch-up vaccination.

Where can you get a tetanus immunisation?

Tetanus immunisations are available in each Australian state and territory.

See Where can I get immunised? for information.

How do you get immunised against tetanus?

You can only get tetanus vaccines as a combination vaccine. They are all given as a needle.

Tetanus vaccines for children under 10 years old include:

Tetanus vaccines for adults, teenagers and children over 10 years old include:

Your doctor can tell you which vaccine they will use for your tetanus immunisation.

Do I need to pay for tetanus immunisation?

Vaccines covered by the NIP are free for people who are eligible. See the NIP Schedule to find out which vaccines you or your family members are eligible to receive.

Eligible people get the vaccine for free, but your health care provider (for example, your doctor) may charge a consultation fee for the visit. You can check this when you make your appointment.

Pregnant women can get free whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine through state and territory programs. This vaccine is a combination vaccine includes protection against tetanus. Contact your state or territory health department for details.

If you are not eligible for free vaccine, you may need to pay for it. The cost depends on the type of vaccine, the formula and where you buy it from. Your immunisation provider can give you more information.

What are the possible side effects of tetanus immunisation?

All medicines and vaccines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they’re not.

For most people, the chance of having a serious side effect from a vaccine is much lower than the chance of serious harm if you caught the disease.

Talk to your doctor about possible side effects of tetanus vaccines, or if you or your child have possible side effects that worry you.

Common side effects of tetanus vaccines include redness, swelling or hardness where the needle went in.

The Consumer Medicine Information links in How do you get immunised against tetanus? list the side effects of each vaccine.

More information

Contacts

If you need advice or more information about immunisation, go to our Immunisation contacts page.

Last updated: 
1 August 2018