How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

This medication belongs to a group of medications known as vaccines. It is used to prevent tetanus and diphtheria. This vaccine is recommended for all individuals 7 years of age and older (including those who have previously had tetanus or diphtheria), as well as for people with HIV.

This vaccine increases a person's defences against the toxins produced by tetanus and diphtheria bacteria. It works by introducing very small amounts of bacterial and toxin components into the bloodstream. Only certain parts of the bacteria are used to make the vaccine (therefore they are not alive), and the toxins have been detoxified. Still, these components are enough to stimulate the production of a person's own antibodies (cells designed to attack that particular bacteria or toxin), which will remain in the body ready to attack any future bacteria that may cause infection and deal with the toxins produced during tetanus or diphtheria infection.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are being given this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Td Adsorbed is a sterile, cloudy, uniform suspension of tetanus and diphtheria toxoids adsorbed on aluminum phosphate and suspended in isotonic sodium chloride solution. Each dose (0.5 mL) contains tetanus toxoid (5 Lf), diphtheria toxoid (2 Lf). Nonmedicinal ingredients: per dose include 0.6% v/v of 2-phenoxyethanol (not as a preservative), 1.5 mg of aluminum phosphate equivalent to 0.33 mg of aluminum as the adjuvant, and ≤0.02% w/w of residual formaldehyde. Single-dose glass vials of 0.5 mL.

How should I use this medication?

This medication is given intramuscularly (injection into a muscle) usually into the upper arm and at the doctor's office. This vaccine is usually given in 3 doses as part of the childhood immunization schedule, for children 7 years old and older. The first 2 doses are given 2 months part, and the third dose is given 6 to 12 months later. Thereafter, this vaccine is given once every 10 years.

It is important this medication be given exactly as recommended by your doctor. If you miss an appointment to receive tetanus - diphtheria vaccine, contact your doctor as soon as possible to reschedule your appointment. All vaccines should be added to your immunization record.

This medication is kept in the fridge. Do not freeze.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

This vaccine should not be used by anyone who:

  • is allergic to any ingredients of this medication or its container
  • has an acute illness (except for minor illnesses without fever, such as an upper respiratory tract infection)
  • has had an allergic reaction to other tetanus or diphtheria vaccines

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • chills
  • fever
  • pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site
  • sore or swollen joints

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • signs of an allergic reaction (such as difficulty breathing, hives, skin rash, swelling of the face or throat)
  • symptoms of low blood pressure (such as lightheadedness or dizziness)
  • symptoms of nervous system damage (such as muscle weakness, numbness or tingling in the face or limbs, involuntary shaking, loss of reflexes, difficulty swallowing or breathing)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Allergic reactions: Rarely, this vaccine may cause severe allergic reactions. For this reason, doctors often ask you to stay in the office for about 30 minutes after having the vaccine so that you can get medical care if you have an allergic reaction. If you notice the signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives; trouble breathing or swallowing; or swelling of the lips, face, throat, or tongue), get medical attention immediately.

Bleeding disorders and anticlotting medications: People with bleeding disorders and people taking anticlotting medications may be at an increased risk for bleeding. Talk to your doctor if this is a concern for you.

Guillain-Barre syndrome: If you developed Guillain-Barre syndrome (a nervous system disorder) within 6 weeks of an immunization with a previous dose of vaccine containing tetanus toxoid, you should discuss the risks and benefits of this vaccine with your doctor.

Immune system: As with any vaccine, this vaccine may not be as effective for people with a weakened immune system (such as those on chemotherapy, people who have had an organ transplant, or people with HIV). If you are taking any medications that suppress your immune system, you may have to wait until treatment has stopped before receiving this vaccine. Talk to your doctor.

Vaccine protection: As with any vaccine, this vaccine may not protect 100% of people who receive it.

Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, it may be necessary to wait until the second trimester of pregnancy to receive this vaccine. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of receiving this vaccine.

Breast-feeding: If you are breast-feeding, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of receiving this vaccine.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between tetanus-diphthera vaccine and any of the following:

  • antineoplastic medications (e.g., methotrexate)
  • corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone)

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.