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How Often Should I get a Tetanus Booster?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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It is generally recommended to get a tetanus booster every 10 years or shortly before traveling to a different country. Another dose of a tetanus booster is also recommended when it has been more than five years since your last booster and you have acquired a deep wound or a wound that is dirty. Tetanus is widely associated with rust, but it is important to get a tetanus vaccine or booster even if the wound was not caused by a rusty object. Even though the bacteria that causes tetanus usually thrives where rust is found, it is a common misconception that rusted objects are the primary places tetanus bacteria is found.

A tetanus booster is typically available 10 years after you are properly immunized to tetanus by a series of vaccine shots. Otherwise, the booster shot will not work properly, and it may be possible to get tetanus. The vaccine is typically delivered in doses when a child is two months, four months, and six months old. After that, it is given when a child is 15 to 18 months, then four to six years old. At this point, the booster is usually given at ages 11 to 12 and then every 10 years under normal circumstances.

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It is especially important for a pregnant woman to ensure that she has had a booster within the past 10 years. Babies can get a type of tetanus when a doctor cuts the umbilical cord with a tool that is not sterile, or if the baby’s still-healing navel becomes dirty. While these scenarios are unlikely in developed countries, it is still a safety precaution that is healthy for the baby. When the mother is properly vaccinated, she passes on the antibodies to fight tetanus when the baby is in the womb. Due to this, babies rarely develop tetanus in developed countries that have a solid vaccination plan, such as the United States and United Kingdom.

If you missed a tetanus booster, it is generally recommended to book an appointment to get one as soon as possible. Getting even a mild case of tetanus is typically treated in a hospital for about two weeks. A severe case of tetanus, which has a much higher fatality rate, can require one to two months in the hospital, while hospital staff maintains your airway and usually delivers food through a tube into the stomach. This is not worth skipping or putting off a tetanus booster shot.

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MrsPramm
Post 3

@bythewell - Fortunately, tetanus doesn't really work like that. It's not a disease that spreads from person to person so much as one that is always around us in the soil and occasionally manages to work its way into the body.

It's actually one of those cases where people can truly make the choice to go without vaccinating and not be harming anyone but themselves, because even if they do get it, it's highly unlikely they will spread it around. Every tetanus shot is protecting an individual, rather than a population.

bythewell
Post 2

@Fa5t3r - It's too bad they can't come up with a tetanus shot that just works for life, but I suppose any vaccine is better than nothing. Tetanus used to be a hug problem all over the world, but deaths from it have been reduced by a lot in the last few years and even people in developing countries are generally given tetanus boosters during generalize health campaigns.

I actually think one of the problems we'll face in the near future is those people in developed countries who have decided to stop having vaccinations and stop giving them to their children because they think they are associated with people developing certain conditions (which they are most decidedly not, as has been

proved several times over).

Since this is a relatively recent phenomenon we haven't seen the repercussions yet because most people will still be covered by the original shot, but eventually that's a chunk of the population that is going to be vulnerable to tetanus.

Fa5t3r
Post 1

I didn't realize that about the tetanus booster being passed on to the unborn child as antibodies. The sad thing is that most of the mothers and infants who would benefit most from this (the ones who are living in countries where there is a greater chance of unsterile conditions at birth) are probably the ones who have never had a tetanus shot either, or wouldn't know they have to get another one in order to keep it working.

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