responsible for the death of around 215,000 newborn babies every year. Being
immunised with the Tetanus Toxoid Vaccine
during pregnancy ensures that neither the mother nor the baby get affected by
the most potent microbial poison known to mankind. Read on to find out all
there is to know about Tetanus and its Vaccinations for pregnant women.
Tetanus is a life-threatening disease that is caused
by a common bacterium called Clostridium Tetani entering
the body by way of a wound. Anything from a little scratch or gash on the skin,
to a deep puncture wound from a burn, dog bite, lacerations, etc. can aid
penetration of the bacteria into the skin. Once inside the skin, it produces a
toxin called tetanospasmin,
into the bloodstream. Not for nothing has this toxin been termed as the most potent known microbial
poison. Once released, the poison attacks the central nervous system,
blocking nerve signals from the spinal cord to and from the muscles.
After an incubation period varying from 3 – 21 days,
The first sign of tetanus can be seen through mild contractions or spasms of
the jaw muscles, thereby giving the disease its common name, - Lockjaw. It will
then cause neck stiffness, stiffness in abdominal muscles, difficulty in swallowing
and cause convulsions and muscle spasms severe enough to cause spinal
fractures. Other symptoms may include elevated blood pressure, fever, rapid heart rate and sweating.
Owing to its resistance to heat and other chemical agents, Tetanus is fatal in
30 to 40 percent of cases.
Neonatal Tetanus and Tetanus Toxoid Vaccine during
Neonatal Tetanus is a very fatal condition
responsible for around 215,000 deaths every year worldwide. Neonatal tetanus
affects newborn infants, mostly due to the use of contaminated cutting
instruments on unhealed umbilical stumps. Affected babies usually have no
immunity because their mother has not been vaccinated and therefore has no
immunity herself. It is thus of utmost importance that the pregnant mother be
immunised with the Tetanus Toxoid or TT vaccine before she gives
birth. This immunisation can be administered
to all women of childbearing age and particularly to would-be
A universal standard for TT
immunisation is followed by most countries for maternal health
care. If a woman happens to carry a
wound that is tetanus prone, and this includes women who have undergone an
unsafe abortion, TT immunisation is very vital to prevent probable tetanus
risks. In rural areas, it is very important to ensure that the TT vaccine is
administered because many deliveries
take place in unhygienic conditions.
Tetanus can be prevented effortlessly through proper
- Infants below the age of seven in India are generally given a combined DTaP vaccine for Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Acellular Pertussis as part of their routine immunisation.
- A routine booster shot of Td is recommended every 10 years for adults.
Administering the TT
The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists
(ACOG) recommend the following schedule for vaccinating pregnant women after
screening their medical reports
- If she has never been immunised, three doses should be administered in 0, 4, and 6-12 months.
- If her immunisation records are not known, at least two doses should be administered in the late second or third trimester (one of which should be TDaP).
- If the vaccination is not administered in pregnancy: a dose should be administered postpartum.
The healthcare provider is required to vigorously
shake the vial containing the vaccine to ensure that the sediment at the bottom
gets thoroughly mixed with the fluid. A shake test is mandatory, in order to
ensure that the vaccine has not encountered any damage while it was frozen and
from administering the suggested doses, it must be ensured that while tetanus
toxoid provides the necessary protection to the foetus by transferring the
tetanus antibodies to it, clean and hygienic practices are extremely important
during delivery so as to effectively prevent maternal and neonatal