If you’re like most people, you probably think that tetanus shots are only for people who work in construction or other dirty industries. But the truth is, tetanus shots are important for everyone – no matter what your occupation is. In fact, tetanus is a serious disease that can cause death if not treated properly. In case of an injury, animal bite or scratch, sometimes a tetanus shot may be required to avoid serious complications.
Prevention of Tetanus
Because tetanus can be lethal even with professional care, prevention is crucial. Tetanus can be prevented in two ways: vaccination and wound care. Tetanus can be contracted through a wound that tears the skin. If you’ve already had your primary (active) Tetanus vaccine, most doctors will advise you to get a tetanus booster if the wound is clean and you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years. If the wound is unclean or tetanus-prone, then your doctor would likely recommend a tetanus booster if you have not had a tetanus booster injection within the last five years. Wounds that are deeper or infected with dirt or soil are more likely to be tetanus-prone. (WebMD)
Types of Tetanus Vaccines and When to Get Them
Tetanus shots are usually given to the deltoid (shoulder) muscle. It is usually given on children’s arms or thighs. Tetanus and other infections are protected by four distinct vaccinations. The type is determined by your age and vaccination status. Babies and young children are given DTaP. Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis are all prevented by this vaccine. DT is used to treat newborns and young children who have had a bad reaction to the whooping cough vaccine, and it only protects against diphtheria and tetanus. Tdap is given to adults and older children. Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis are all prevented by this vaccine. Td is a booster shot that exclusively protects against diphtheria and tetanus in older children and adults. (WebMD)
When Do You Need a Shot?
While people know that a rusty nail or punctured wound requires a tetanus shot, we can also need a shot after an animal bite or scratch. Animal bites can be terrifying, and may prompt emergency care. Household pets are the most common source of animal bites in the United States, with dogs and cats being the most dangerous. Infected cat bites and scratches are very common. Bite wounds from humans or animals can develop infection and spread diseases like rabies. If you haven’t had a tetanus vaccine in the last 10 years, you should get one as soon as possible after an animal bite. If you’re not sure when your last tetanus shot was, you should get one within 72 hours after your injury. (Emergency Physicians)
If you have never had a primary tetanus immunization as a child and have an open wound, the doctor will most likely give you the first vaccine dose as well as a single injection of a specific immunoglobulin with high tetanus activity at the time of your wound care. To complete the primary immunization series, you must see a doctor in four weeks and then again in six months. (WebMD)
To protect yourself from tetanus, make sure you get a tetanus shot every ten years and clean any wounds immediately. If you think you may have been exposed to tetanus, seek medical attention immediately. With proper treatment, tetanus is usually not fatal. However, it can still cause serious health complications, so be sure you follow up with your doctor.
“Tetanus Shot & Prevention: Wound Care and Immunizations.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/children/vaccines/understanding-tetanus-prevention.
“Animal Bites – Know When to Go to the ER.” – Know When to Go to the ER, www.emergencyphysicians.org/article/know-when-to-go/animal-bites#:~:text=Human%20or%20animal%20bites%20can,72%20hours%20after%20your%20injury