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Florida DoH Recommends Tetanus Vaccine

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

With the amount of debris left by a tropical storm or hurricane, Floridians working on clean-up efforts could be at risk of sustaining injuries. Below is information on who may or may not need to receive a vaccination:

If you have not had a cut or wound, you do not require tetanus vaccination regardless of your exposure to floodwaters.

If you sustain a laceration and/or puncture wound and have not had a tetanus vaccination within the past 10 years, you will need a tetanus booster.

If you have an especially serious wound, then you should receive a tetanus booster within five years of last vaccination.

If you sustain a wound or deep cut that concerns you, seek medical attention. Medical attention is required to determine if a tetanus booster is needed.

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Proper wound care is essential for all cuts and lacerations regardless of exposure to floodwaters.


Tetanus, commonly called lockjaw, is a bacterial disease that affects the nervous system. It is contracted through a cut or wound that becomes contaminated with tetanus bacteria. The bacteria can penetrate even a tiny pinprick or scratch, but deep puncture wounds or cuts, like those made by nails, knives or barbed-wire, are especially susceptible to infection with tetanus. Tetanus bacteria are present worldwide and are commonly found in soil, dust and manure. Infection with tetanus causes severe muscle spasms, leading to "locking" of the jaw so that the patient cannot open his/her mouth or swallow, and may even lead to death by suffocation. Tetanus is not transmitted from person to person.


Common first signs of tetanus are headache and muscular stiffness in the jaw (lockjaw) followed by stiffness of the neck, difficulty in swallowing, rigidity of abdominal muscles, spasms, sweating and fever. Symptoms usually begin eight days after the infection but may range in onset from three days to three weeks.

Individuals deployed to work on recovery efforts are encouraged to contact their primary care provider or local CHD prior to deployment if they feel they need a tetanus shot.