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When Do You Need a Tetanus Shot?

I understand that a number of people are against many of the available vaccines, especially for children. I am a former military brat and work in the health care field. I received many vaccinations. My goal here is not to convince you to have a vaccination or to have your child vaccinated. I want to provide the information so an individual will be able to make an educated choice based on facts instead of misinformation.

Now that you have read my disclaimer, let us review the facts!

What is Tetanus?

Tetanus is most commonly known as lockjaw. It is caused by Clostridium Tetani a bacterium that is found as parasites in the gastrointestinal tract of animals and as spores in soil. C. tetani produces a strong biological toxin, which causes tetanus. The disease causes unbearable muscle spasms, which can lead to respiratory failure. I have seen publications indicate the mortality rate as high as 40%. The government information indicated a 10% to 20% mortality rate. In countries where vaccines are not readily available and medical treatment is lacking, I can believe in a much higher rate of deaths.

How Does a Person Become Infected?

First let me state up front that it is not passed from person to person. The bacterium enters the body through an open wound.

Symptoms of Tetanus:

The early symptoms are stiffness particularly in the neck and abdomen area. A person may experience difficulty swallowing and will usually experience lockjaw. As it progresses, a person will experience severe muscle spasms that cause excruciating pain, seizure like activity and disorders of the nervous system. The early symptoms are easy to shrug off; however, medical attention is critical during this time.

Recommended Vaccination Schedules:

The initial vaccination should start at 2 months and a dose should then be continued at 4 months, 6 months, between 15 to 18 months and then again between 4 to 6 years old.

If an adult has had the childhood immunizations, then he or she should receive a booster every ten years. If not, a series of three shots will be administered.

The above mentioned vaccination guideline are similar around the world. There are many countries that experience a higher rate of infection and mortality rates. In addition, there are Tetanus vaccines available that do not contain Thimerosal. You will need to ask your healthcare provider which vaccine they are currently utilizing.

There are many countries which report few new cases. For example, Australia only reported 2 new cases in 2002. While countries in South East Asia experienced 82,000 Tetanus related deaths. The countries with the lowest incidence and mortality rates are countries which use the Tetanus vaccine.

I must state that as a child I had many scrapes and cuts just from playing outside. Since I was vaccinated, I cannot say how many times I may have contracted C. tetani from playing in the dirt. Vaccines are a personal choice and I understand the concerns associated with vaccines. I can only speak for myself, I have had many vaccines and I am alive and doing fine!




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