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Tetanus: Make Sure Your Family is Fully Immunized

11/5/2014

Summertime often means family cookouts, long days playing outside, and unfortunately the cuts and scrapes that often come with outdoor fun. Bacteria, including the ones that cause tetanus, are commonly found in soil and can enter the body through these breaks in the skin. Make sure your family is protected by being up to date with their tetanus vaccine.

What is Tetanus?

Tetanus is an infection caused by bacteria. When the bacteria invade the body, they produce a toxin, or poison, that causes your muscles to tighten and cramp painfully. Tetanus infection mainly affects the neck, chest, and stomach. Tetanus is also called “lockjaw” because it often causes a person’s neck and jaw muscles to lock, making it hard to open the mouth or swallow. It can also cause breathing problems, severe muscle spasms, and seizures. The muscle spasms can be strong enough to break your bones, and you might have to spend several weeks in the hospital under intensive care. Complete recovery can take months. If left untreated, tetanus can be deadly.

How is Tetanus Spread?

Tetanus is different from other vaccine-preventable diseases in that it does not spread from person to person. Instead, the bacteria are usually found in soil, dust and manure, and enter the body through breaks in the skin — usually cuts or puncture wounds.

Tetanus Vaccine Protection:

There are several vaccines that protect against tetanus.

  • DTaP: diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine for children younger than age 7
  • Tdap: tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis vaccine for older children and adults
  • Td: tetanus and diphtheria vaccine for older children and adults
After getting the Tdap vaccine as a preteen or teen, adults need to get a Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years to stay protected. For adults who didn’t get Tdap as a preteen or teen, the easiest thing to do is to get Tdap instead of their next regular Td booster. The dose of Tdap can be given earlier than the 10-year mark, so it’s a good idea for adults to talk to a doctor about what’s best for their specific situation.

Tetanus vaccines are safe, but side effects can occur. Most side effects are mild or moderate, meaning they do not affect daily activities. See the CDC website for vaccine information and to learn more about the most common side effects.

Make sure your family is protected against tetanus by

  • Checking your child’s vaccination records
  • Keeping track of vaccines you receive
  • Contacting your or your child’s doctor
Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccinations, but you may want to check with your insurance provider before going to the doctor. If you don’t have insurance or if it does not cover vaccines, your child may be able to get vaccines through the local health department.

For more information go to the CDC website

Content source: www.cdc.gov

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