Summertime represents fun days in the sun with cookouts, games in the backyard, and other outdoor activities. Occasionally we can get cuts or scrapes during our adventures, and sometimes those injuries can become infected or require medical intervention. You should ensure you and your family all keep your tetanus shots up-to-date in case of an emergency. M.D. Express Urgent Care urges you to understand the risk of tetanus and the reason you need a tetanus shot.
While it’s uncommon, tetanus is a serious disease caused by bacteria spores found all around us in our environment. These spores are often found in the soil and usually enter the human body through breaks in the skin from cuts, scrapes, and other injuries. Once inside our bodies, the spores are active bacteria, producing a poison that results in muscle stiffness and pain.
Sometimes referred to as lockjaw, there are many common symptoms of tetanus. These include jaw cramping, difficulty swallowing, changes in blood pressure and/or heart rate, headache, fever, sweating, involuntary muscle spasms that often begin in the stomach and can be strong enough to break bones, muscle pain and stiffness, seizures and more. Tetanus infection can not only cause substantial health problems, it can also result in death.
What’s a Tetanus Shot?
Vaccines to combat tetanus are available to fight the dangerous infection and, thanks to these vaccines, deaths from tetanus infection have dropped as much as 99% since 1947 in the United States. They are also safe for use in all ages. Four vaccines are offered that protect people from tetanus:
- DTaP: A vaccine administered to very young children at 2, 4, and 6 months of age, with boosters recommended at 15-18 months and 4 to 6 years of age, to protect them from tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough.
- DT: A vaccine administered to protect young children from diphtheria and tetanus.
- Tdap: A vaccine available for the protection of preteens, teenagers, and adults against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. It’s recommended to get the first one at 11 to 12 years of age with adults getting a booster shot every ten years. This vaccine can also be used for adults who were never vaccinated for tetanus before.
- Td: A vaccine available for the protection of preteens, teenagers, and adults from diphtheria and tetanus.
Why Are Tetanus Shots Vital?
Tetanus vaccines are recommended for all ages by the CDC. While there’s no cure for tetanus, the shots play a vital role in preventing the infection from developing. The prognosis is usually very good when cases of tetanus are found early and treated properly. When you consider that for every ten people infected with tetanus as many as two can die as a result, the need for the vaccine makes good sense.
There are other protective measures you can take in addition to the vaccines:
- Protect your skin from being penetrated where possible.
- Always wear shoes to protect your feet.
- Should your skin be broken or punctured by injury, thoroughly clean the area with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately if any symptoms should occur.
- Passive immunization can also sometimes be used in select cases as determined by a doctor.
Check up on everyone’s vaccination records in your family today and get vaccines and boosters where needed to keep everyone safe. If you have any questions about vaccines received or needed, contact your family doctor and make an appointment. Most health care plans cover vaccinations but if you don’t have health insurance, you may be able to immunize your children through the Vaccines for Children Program.
If you are unsure of your vaccination status and receive a wound or injury that could lead to tetanus, go to your local M.D. Express Urgent Care for treatment of the injury, including a tetanus shot. Our 6 convenient locations are open 7 days a week for walk-in care for your needs.