Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Do You get a Tetanus Shot Every 10 Years?

Last week I had a physical and my doctor told me I should get a tetanus shot. I chose not to get one because I didn't think it was necessary.

Today while surfing I came across this article which has me wondering if perhaps I should go get that shot after all.

Tetanus Dangers May Await Spring Gardeners - Survey Shows Few Aware of Disease Danger in Dirt
By Jennifer Warner, WebMd Medical News

"A new survey shows 57% of adults don't know that tetanus bacteria are commonly found in soil, dirt, and manure. Despite the fact that about a third of tetanus infection occurs while gardening, researchers found that 40% of those surveyed aren't protected against the infection.

Tetanus is a nerve condition that occurs when humans become infected with a bacteria commonly found in the environment know as Clostridium tetani. Bacterial spores are found in soil as well as in human or animal waste. Humans become infected with the bacteria when spores enter an open wound, such as a cut or scrape, and enter the bloodstream.

Tetanus commonly causes muscle rigidity and painful spasms usually starting at the top of the body. Lockjaw is often the first symptom, followed by stiffness in the neck and abdomen and problems swallowing. Symptoms appear anywhere from days to weeks after infection.

Immunization is the best way to protect against tetanus in the U.S. Vaccine protection against tetanus must be boosted every 10 years with a combined vaccine known as Td, which also protects against diphtheria. But according to the CDC, 53% of people in the U.S. aged 20 years and older are not adequately protected against tetanus and diphtheria.

"Tetanus is rare in the U.S. today, but it's difficult to tell when you may be exposed, and the potential consequences can be devastating," says Susan Rehm, MD, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, in a news release.

The telephone survey of more than 2,000 households commissioned by the National Gardening Association in January shows that many people are unaware of the tetanus dangers lurking in their home, garden, or yard.

Researchers found 80% of gardeners surveyed had sustained an injury that could put them at risk for tetanus infection, including scratches, insect bites, cuts, scrapes, splinter, puncture wounds, and pet or animal bites.

According to the CDC, 31% of tetanus injuries occur in the yard, garden, or farm and 23% happen at other outdoor locations.

Since the late 1940s, children in the U.S. have been vaccinated against tetanus with a combined vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).

Adults over 60 may have never had this series. In those cases, the Td vaccine series can be used to provide protection against tetanus and diphtheria. Vaccine protection with the Td vaccine must be boosted every 10 years."


  1. It doesn't hurt to get one-well not that much. I think every member of my family has had one at one time or another. I remember getting one when I walked on a rusty nail and got a hamster bite (as a kid). I think Sean had to get one as part of his school shots.

  2. I had heard that you should get one every 10 years...the last time I'd had one was over 15 years ago but last summer I ended up having to get one because while at a beach in Toronto, I stepped on a broken hashish oil vial...ughhhh! I went to the clinic to have it checked out and the doc suggested getting a tetanus shot cuz you never know what that piece of vial could be infected with!!

  3. Pea,
    How bad is the shot?
    I haven't had a shot in many years and I don't remember liking them all that much! LOL.

  4. I didn't know about this! Always thought it came from rust, or animal scratches. Thanks for the info.

  5. I've never heard of getting tetnus but I have heard of getting e'coli from the manure...I always wear gloves and wash my hands really well after handling potting soil for that reason.

  6. yes zoey, they do say every 10 years. I had my last one a few years ago. Doesn't hurt that much.

  7. Didn't hurt at all Zoey, just like a little pinch on your arm:-)

  8. I had one recently after a cat bite incident (long story)... it doesn't hurt. Your arm will feel a bit achy the next day, but not so much. Better than risking the infection.

    When I was a kid I read about a gardener that died from tetnus that he picked up pruning his roses - from a thorn!

  9. I received one shot in my right arm to-day at 4 pm aprox -- at 7:30 pm I have not any disturbance nither pain in my arm when I'm using this hand to interneting this...


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