Common Health Question
You may need a tetanus jab if the injury has broken your skin and your tetanus vaccinations aren't up-to-date.
Tetanus is a serious but rare condition that can be fatal if untreated.
The bacteria that can cause tetanus can enter your body through a wound or cut in your skin. They are often found in soil and manure.
You should contact your GP or NHS 111 if you're concerned about a wound, particularly if:
Your GP can assess the wound and decide if you need a vaccination or any other treatment.
You should immediately go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department or call 999 for an ambulance if you develop severe muscle stiffness or spasms.
Tetanus vaccination is given as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme against tetanus.
A full course of tetanus vaccination consists of five doses of the vaccine. This should be enough to give you long-term protection from tetanus.
However, if you're not sure how many doses you've received, you may need a booster dose after an injury that breaks your skin.
If you've definitely received five doses of the tetanus vaccine, you are fully vaccinated and don't need a booster dose.
If you have a tetanus-prone wound, get medical treatment as soon as possible, even if you've been fully vaccinated.
Public Health England defines tetanus-prone wounds as:
If you have a tetanus-prone wound and it's considered to be high risk, treatment with tetanus immunoglobulin (TIG) is recommended. TIG is a solution that contains infection-fighting cells (antibodies) that kill the tetanus bacteria. You will need TIG even if you're fully vaccinated against tetanus.
Read the answers to more questions about vaccinations.