While DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Acellular Pertussis) and Tdap vaccines are meant to protect us from disease and illness, side effects from these vaccinations do occur. Reactions can be as mild as a sore arm, or as severe as Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), Brachial Neuritis, and Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

If you were injured by a tetanus vaccine, you could be eligible for compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). Our vaccine injury lawyers can help you put together your petition, so you get the compensation you deserve.

Get started today by calling our office at 614-389-9711, as there are strict deadlines to file a claim.


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What is a Tetanus Vaccine?

Tetanus vaccines are designed to help prevent tetanus. Tetanus is caused by a bacterium (called Clostridium tetani) which produces a toxin that can lead to painful muscle contractions when it enters the body. A common symptom of tetanus is a tightening and/or locking of the neck and jaw muscles, making it difficult to open the mouth or swallow. This is commonly referred to as “lockjaw”.

There are several types of vaccines used to protect against tetanus and other diseases. The common types of tetanus vaccines are as follows:

  • DT: The DT vaccine is designed to protect against diphtheria and tetanus. DT is typically given to young children.

  • DTP: The DTP vaccine helps prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.

  • DTaP: The DTaP vaccine helps prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis. It is appropriate for kids under the age of seven.

  • Tdap: The Tdap vaccine helps guard against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Adults and older children can receive it.

  • Td: The Td vaccine helps prevent diphtheria and tetanus. Td is commonly administered to adults.

  • TT: The TT vaccine only contains tetanus toxoid.

Possible Side Effects from Tetanus Shots

Although tetanus vaccines can help prevent tetanus, they are not without potential risk. Any vaccine may result in adverse reactions. Most reactions to tetanus vaccines are mild (such as a painful arm or a low-grade fever) and pass in a matter of days. The CDC lists possible side effects of the DT, DTaP, Tdap, and Td vaccines on their website.

  • DT: Side effects associated with the DT vaccine include crying, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, pain at the injection site, and headaches.

  • DTaP: Side effects following a DTaP vaccination include soreness or swelling where the shot was administered, fever, fatigue, irritability, lack of appetite, and vomiting. More severe adverse reactions include seizures, high temperature (above 105°F), and swelling of the entire arm or leg.

  • Tdap: After receiving the Tdap vaccine, some people experience pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site, a low fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fainting, and stomachaches.

  • Td: Side effects of the Td vaccine include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fever, headache, and tiredness.

Tetanus Vaccine Injury Treatment

Unfortunately, very serious adverse reactions can occur in people who receive a tetanus vaccine. When serious adverse reactions occur, the impact can be life-altering and permanent. If you experience a serious adverse reaction to a tetanus vaccine, you should contact your doctor's office right away. Your doctor will make sure that you start a course of treatment to best address your symptoms. Be sure to inform your doctor about any vaccine administration details you can remember, including the place, date and time of your vaccination.

After being notified of your vaccine injury, your doctor is required to fill out a VAERS report. You can also fill out a VAERS report yourself by clicking the link and going to their website.

Tetanus Vaccines and the Vaccine Injury Table

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) has created a table which lists the criteria one must meet in order for the injury or adverse reaction to be considered a “Table Injury”. One group of vaccines which are presumed to have caused certain injuries or adverse reactions are vaccines which contain tetanus toxoid.

Under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), certain injuries/adverse reactions are presumed to have been caused by a specific vaccine if the first onset of symptoms occurs within a specified timeframe. When an injury or adverse reaction qualifies for the presumption, it is considered a “Table Injury”.

The importance of qualifying as a “Table Injury” is that the Court will award you compensation unless the opposing counsel is able to demonstrate that something other than the vaccine caused your injury or adverse reaction. Unfortunately, only some injuries are considered a “Table Injury” and afforded this presumption. Some examples are listed below.

Anaphylaxis Caused by Tetanus Vaccine

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that happens very quickly. There are four stages of anaphylaxis:

  1. Mild symptoms include skin rash or redness, itching or hives.  

  2. Moderate anaphylaxis happens when a person has more widespread and extensive symptoms like skin rash and hives that are spreading or mild swelling in their lips or tongue.

  3. Severe anaphylaxis happens next and involves a person displaying signs of difficulty breathing, extensive swelling, weak pulse and/or dizziness. 

  4. Life-threatening anaphylaxis is the last stage and involves a person losing consciousness, being unable to breathe, and having inadequate blood flow to vital organs.

To qualify for the presumption of causation under the Injury Table, the first onset of symptoms must have occurred within four hours of receiving the vaccine.

Brachial Neuritis Caused by Tetanus Vaccine

Brachial Neuritis consists of nerve damage that affects the chest, shoulder, arm, and hand. It is also known as “Parsonage-Turner Syndrome and Brachial Neuropathy. Symptoms include:

  • Severe pain in the upper arm or shoulder

  • Pain usually affecting just one side of the body

  • Lack of muscle control in the shoulder or arm

  • Lack of sensation or feeling in the shoulder or arm

After a few hours or days, the pain transitions to weakness, limpness, or paralysis in the muscles of the affected arm or shoulder.

To qualify for the presumption of causation under the Injury Table, the first onset of symptoms must have occurred between 2 and 28 days after vaccination.

Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA)

SIRVA is an injury caused by the injection of a vaccine into the shoulder joint rather than the deltoid muscle. The needle of the shot (as opposed to the vaccine) is what causes the injury. The main symptoms include persistent shoulder pain and a limited range of motion in the injured shoulder.

In order to qualify for the presumption of causation under the Injury Table, the first onset of symptoms must have occurred within 48 hours of receiving the vaccination.

Vasovagal Syncope Caused by Tetanus Vaccine

Vasovagal Syncope happens when your blood pressure and heart rate drop suddenly, causing you to pass out.

Common symptoms include:

  • Lightheadedness

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • A sudden warm feeling

  • Pale skin

  • Sudden feeling of tiredness

  • Yawning

  • Profuse sweating

  • Slow pulse

Once an attack starts, the following are likely to happen:

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Falling to the ground

  • Eyes remain open but roll up and back into your head

  • Twitching movements

  • Loss of bladder control

In order to qualify for the presumption of causation under the Injury Table, the first onset of symptoms must have occurred within one hour of receiving the vaccination.

How to Receive Compensation for a Tetanus Vaccine Injury

Recognizing that people can experience serious adverse reactions to vaccines, Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act in 1986 (NCVIA). As part of the NCVIA, Congress created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). This program allows individuals who have experienced a serious adverse reaction to a vaccine to obtain compensation for their injuries and damages.

What is the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) is the federal program through which people can receive compensation when they have been injured by a vaccine. It is a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system. So, unlike in a regular civil action, you don’t need to demonstrate the vaccine manufacturer's negligence or wrongdoing. To be eligible for compensation, you merely need to prove that a vaccination caused your injury.

Receiving Compensation for Tetanus Vaccine Injuries

If you've been injured by a tetanus vaccine, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. You could be entitled to compensation for past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, and past and future pain and suffering.

How to Seek Damages for Your Tetanus Vaccine Injury

In order to receive compensation for your vaccine-related injuries and damages, you must file a claim with the Federal Court of Claims in Washington, D.C. through the NVICP. The process of presenting a claim and obtaining compensation is complicated. The claim must be proven through the presentation of a wide variety of evidence. Because this is a complex legal process, many people choose to hire representation. The experienced vaccine injury attorneys at DuPont & Blumenstiel are here to help you through the entire process to help maximize your chances of receiving financial compensation.

What Does a Vaccine Injury Attorney Do?

A vaccine injury attorney represents people who have had an adverse reaction to a vaccine. If you have been injured by the DTaP or Tdap vaccine, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The amount of compensation you may receive depends on the severity of your injuries and the circumstances of your case. An experienced vaccine injury attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options.

Will I Have to Pay Attorney’s Fees and Case-Related Expenses?

Understandably, many people worry that they will be held responsible for paying attorney’s fees. One great aspect of the VICP is that our clients don’t have to pay our fees or case-related expenses. The Federal Court of Claims will pay the attorney's fees and other legal costs. Win or lose, we will never ask you to pay our fees.

Who Can File a Claim with the VICP?

You may file a petition if you:

  • were injured after receiving a covered vaccine,

  • are the parent or legal guardian of a child or disabled adult who received a covered vaccine, and you believe they were injured by it, and/or

  • believe that a covered vaccine caused the death of a family member or loved one.

Are There Any Restrictions on Presenting a Claim and Obtaining Compensation?

There are some important limitations on who can successfully pursue a vaccine claim. Your claim must involve a vaccine covered by the VICP.

To qualify for compensation under the VICP, your symptoms must have lasted for six months or longer, required extensive hospitalization and surgery, or resulted in death.

Finally, you must file your claim (called a “petition”) with the Federal Court of Claims in Washington, D.C. before the Statute of Limitations expires.

Statute of Limitation Deadlines for Vaccine Injury Claims

Just like many other areas of law, vaccine injury claims have a statute of limitations.

For cases in which the petitioner did not die, the statute of limitations is 3 years from the first onset of symptoms. For cases in which the petitioner died, the statute of limitations is 24 months from the date of death, but not more than 4 years from the date of vaccination.

It's important to keep these dates in mind so you don't miss them! If you believe you've suffered an adverse reaction to a vaccine, the time to act is now.

How Much Compensation Can I Receive Through the VICP?

The amount of compensation you can receive depends on your situation, the severity of your symptoms, and how long they lasted. With some exceptions, there typically is no set compensation amount for tetanus vaccine injuries.

Hiring a Vaccine Injury Attorney

Receiving compensation through the NVICP is complex, which is why it’s important to consult with a vaccine injury lawyer. If you or a loved one have suffered an adverse reaction to a Tdap or DTaP vaccine, our experienced vaccine injury attorneys are here to help. We will advocate for your claims fully, and help you better understand your options. Don’t wait to call us. There are deadlines to file your claim. Call 614-389-9711 for a free case evaluation.

Want to learn more about the NVICP? Download our Consumer's Guide to Vaccine-Related Injuries here.


The law gives Braden a pragmatic way to solve problems using his background in clinical psychology. He is a talented presenter in the courtroom, as he understands how to effectively question witnesses and relay information. He specializes in vaccine injury, personal injury, probate litigation, and business law, and has been recognized for his work by SuperLawyers.