Now that summer is in full swing, people of all ages are enjoying hiking, biking, outdoor swimming, running barefoot, and camping. Unfortunately, cuts and scrapes come with outdoor fun. It’s important to make sure everyone in your family is up-to-date on their tetanus vaccine.
Tetanus is an infection caused by Clostridium tetani bacteria. These bacteria can be found in soil, manure, and dust. They can enter the body through breaks in the skin – most often cuts or puncture wounds. Inside the body, the bacteria make a poison that can cause painful muscle stiffness.
Tetanus also can cause breathing problems, severe muscle spasms, seizures, and even death. Ensuring that you and your children are up-to-date on tetanus vaccines will decrease your worry about infection as you have fun and enjoy the summer.
Babies should receive a series of four tetanus-containing vaccines by the age of 18 months. Children should receive a booster dose between 4 and 6 years of age and then another booster dose between the age of 11 and 12. Adults need a vaccine at least every 10 years because protection from the vaccine decreases over time.
In fact, sometimes health-care providers will give a vaccine earlier than 10 years if a patient has an injury. Don’t wait until you get a wound to ask about the tetanus vaccine. Ask your health-care provider or contact your local health department to inquire about your vaccine status. The tetanus vaccine itself is safe. Any side effects are generally mild and do not affect daily activities. For more information, visit the CDC website