tetanus vaccination

Last edited 11/2019

Tetanus vaccination functions by stimulating the production of antitoxin, thus providing immunity to the effects of the toxin.

The immunogen is cell-free toxin prepared from the filtrate of a broth culture of C. tetani. It is inactivated by treatment with formaldehyde and usually absorbed onto an adjuvant such as aluminium phosphate or aluminium hydroxide. Bordatella pertussis can also act as an adjuvant.

Tetanus vaccines contain not less than 20IU of tetanus toxoid

  • The tetanus vaccine is only given as part of combined products for the UK national vaccination programme:
    • diphtheria/tetanus/acellular pertussis/inactivated polio vaccine/Haemophilus influenzae type b/Hepatitis B (DTaP/IPV/Hib/HepB)
    • diphtheria/tetanus/acellular pertussis/inactivated polio vaccine (DTaP/IPV or dTaP/IPV
    • tetanus/diphtheria/inactivated polio vaccine (Td/IPV)

The above vaccines are:

  • thiomersal-free.are inactivated
  • do not contain live organisms and cannot cause the diseases against which they protect


  1. Update on immunisation issues (August 2002). PL/CMO/2002/4, PL/CNO/2002/4,PL/CPHO/2002/2
  2. Department of Health (August 10th 2004). New vaccinations for the childhood immunisation programme. PL/CMO/2004/3, PL/CNO/2004/2, PL/CPHO/2004/3.
  3. Department of Health (April 2019). Tetanus- Green Book Chapter 30.