What Happens if You Skip a Tetanus Shot?

Since tetanus spores are essentially everywhere, a tetanus shot is important if you have a wound and are not up to date on your vaccines.

Can you see any tetanus spores on the thorns of this rose bush?
Can you see any tetanus spores on the thorns of this rose bush? Photo by Cherrie Mio Rhodes. (CC BY 2.0)

Unbelievably, some parents still decide to skip this important shot for their kids though.

What Happens if You Skip a Tetanus Shot?

What could happen if your child doesn’t get a tetanus shot?

You only have to look at what has happened since the pre-vaccine era to know that skipping a tetanus shot is not a good idea.

“From 1995 through 1997, a total of 124 cases of tetanus were reported from 33 states and the District of Columbia, accounting for an average annual incidence of 0.15 cases per 1,000,000 population… Only 13% of patients reported having received a primary series of TT before disease onset. Previous vaccination status was directly related to severity of disease, with the case-fatality ratio ranging from 6% for patients who had received one to two doses to 15% for patients who were unvaccinated. No deaths occurred among the 16 patients who previously had received three or more doses. Tetanus occurred following an acute injury in 77% of patients, but only 41% sought medical care for their injury. “

Tetanus Surveillance — United States, 1995-1997

Tetanus is deadly.

This unvaccinated girl is lucky that she didn't develop tetanus.
This unvaccinated girl is lucky that she didn’t develop tetanus.

Sure, not every unvaccinated child who gets a wound develops tetanus.

And not every unvaccinated child who develops tetanus dies.

This unvaccinated child developed tetanus after a toe nail injury.
This unvaccinated child developed tetanus after a toe nail injury. Photo by Petrus Rudolf de Jong (CC BY 3.0)

But why take the chance that your child will develop tetanus when there is a safe and effective vaccine that will prevent it.

There have been several cases of tetanus among unvaccinated Amish kids.
Why aren’t there more cases? Most kids are vaccinated and protected!

These parents, very recently, took that chance and their kids suffered the consequences, weeks and months in a pediatric intensive care unit:

  • an unvaccinated boy in Oregon spent nearly two months in the ICU after cutting his forehead on his family farm (2019)
  • an unvaccinated 10 year old in Italy fell and skinned her knee and ended up in the ICU (2018)
  • an unvaccinated 10-year-old in Sardinia, Italy who cut his forehead after crashing his bike (2017)
  • an unvaccinated 7-year-old in Australia who cut her foot while playing in the garden (2017)
  • a 22-month-old in Australia (2017), their first case in a child since 2000.
  • an unvaccinated child in Slovenia, their first case in 20 years (2016)
  • an unvaccinated 6-year-old in Ontario who was in the ICU (2015)

Their parents were wrong that their kids didn’t need a tetanus shot.

Just like you are wrong if you think that the tetanus spores or bacteria will wash away if the wound bleeds enough, that it is too late to get a tetanus shot with TBIG when your child gets hurt, or that your child can’t die or get seriously ill because of tetanus.

And you are especially wrong if you think that the risks of the tetanus vaccine are greater than the risks of having tetanus.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

More on Skipping a Tetanus Shot

Last Updated on

One thought on “What Happens if You Skip a Tetanus Shot?

  1. By accidennt just now we have a case of tetanus in the Czech Republic. It is a preschool age boy, being treated at a ICU. He needed to have tracheostomy. Of course the boy had not been vaccinated. He had had a corroded battery removed from the nasal cavity some weeks before.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.