Tetanus, commonly called lockjaw, is a bacterial disease that affects the nervous system. It is contracted through a wound that becomes contaminated with tetanus bacteria. The bacteria can get in through even a tiny pinprick or scratch, but deep puncture wounds or cuts like those made by nails or knives are especially susceptible to infection with tetanus. Tetanus bacteria are present worldwide and are commonly found in soil, dust and manure. Infection with tetanus can cause severe muscle spasms and "locking" of the jaw so the patient cannot open his/her mouth or swallow. Tetanus is not transmitted from person to person.
The DTaP, Td, and Tdap vaccines all protect against tetanus. Children need four doses of DTaP by 15 months and a Tdap booster at age 11 or 12. Adults need a booster every 10 years after the primary series has been completed. For adults, age 18–64 years old, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine is recommended.