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Spring Is Time To Encourage Adult Patients To Get A Tetanus Booster

Armen Hareyan's picture

Tetanus Booster

Outdoor recreation can create problems, however, and one of them is potential tetanus exposure. Springtime finds people of all ages heading outside to garden, picnic and have fun in the sun.

The Monongalia County Health Department (MCHD) would like to remind everyone to make sure that their tetanus shot is up to date. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 31% of reported tetanus-related injuries occur in yards, gardens and farms. As well, another 23% occur in other outdoor locations.

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Tetanus lives in the soil and enters the body through breaks in the skin. Because gardeners use sharp tools, dig in the dirt, and handle plants with sharp points, they are particularly prone to tetanus infections.

"Given the popularity of gardening and other outdoor activities, it's important that we make sure everyone, particularly older patients, are fully and currently immunized against tetanus," stated Shelley C. Martin, Public Health Educator for the Monongalia County Health Department. "After the initial series as a child the first tetanus booster is given at age 11 or 12. Thereafter, all adults should have a booster every 10 years or 5 years if there is a contaminated wound," stated Martin.

In recent years, tetanus has been fatal in approximately 11% of reported cases. Cases most likely to be fatal are those occurring in persons 60 years of age and older and unvaccinated persons. Clearly, many older adults are not adequately immunized against tetanus and some are suffering and dying as a result.

For more information on tetanus vaccine, contact your primary care provider or the Health Department. If you are under 65, discuss the availability of Tdap vaccine which will also offer protection against pertussis (whooping cough). Pertussis cases continue to rise and the greatest increase is among adolescents and adults. In addition to the increase in disease in this population, 75% of infant cases can be linked to an adult family member, such as the parents or grandparents.