Tag: tetanus myths

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

Guess Who Thinks Vaccines Are Connected to Mass Shootings?

It’s hard to think that the modern anti-vaccine movement could sink any lower, after all, they have recently been called out for lying about vaccinating their kids, selling fake vaccine exemptions, bringing up the Holocaust when talking about vaccines and autism, and of course scaring parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids in the middle of the largest measles outbreak in 25 years.

Guess Who Thinks Vaccines Are Connected to Mass Shootings?

Not surprisingly, they weren’t done…

Larry Cook and his followers at Stop Mandatory Vaccination think that vaccines are connected to mass shootings.

A recent discussion on an anti-vaccine Facebook group asking if there was a connection between vaccines and mass shootings got nearly 1000 comments.

What’s the overall consensus of the group?

Of course they do!

“NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred over the weekend in Texas and Ohio. These mass shootings are far too common and impact every corner of our nation. Every time we experience a tragedy like this, people with mental illness are drawn into the conversation. The truth is that the vast majority of violence is not perpetrated by people with mental illness. Statements to the contrary only serve to perpetuate stigma and distract from the real issues.

NAMI sees gun violence as a national public health crisis that impacts everyone.”

NAMI Statement on Mass Shootings in Texas and Ohio

Even Larry Cook, the groups founder, has his own secret theory about how vaccines are associated with mass shootings. My guess is that his conspiracy theory involves nanobots…

There is only one real question we should have about all of this…

Do you want tetanus? Because this is how you get tetanus?
Do you want tetanus? Because this is how you get tetanus?

Why hasn’t his Stop Mandatory Vaccination group been removed from Facebook already?

More On the Worst of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

An Unvaccinated Girl in Italy Has Tetanus

Remember the story of the unvaccinated boy in Oregon who recently had tetanus?

He spent nearly two months in the hospital, nearly all of it in the ICU, and his care cost just over $800,000. All for a disease that is easily vaccine-preventable.

An Unvaccinated Girl in Italy Has Tetanus

That boy in Oregon wasn’t the first intentionally unvaccinated kid to have tetanus recently and tragically, he won’t be the last.

An Unvaccinated Girl in Italy Has Tetanus
The girl fell and skinned her knee. Unvaccinated, she ended up in the ICU with tetanus.

The latest case is an unvaccinated girl in Verona, Italy.

An Unvaccinated Girl in Italy Has Tetanus

The girl, from Povegliano, is intubated and sedated and in critical condition.

Her family is being investigated to see why she wasn’t vaccinated.

Unbelievably, she joins a growing list of kids who have gotten tetanus for no good reason in the post-vaccination era.

  • an unvaccinated 4-year-old who developed tetanus after a toenail injury. He was intubated for over two weeks.
  • an unvaccinated 10-year-old in Sardinia, Italy who cut his forehead after crashing his bike
  • an unvaccinated 7-year-old in New Zealand who had a small cut his foot
  • an unvaccinated 7-year-old in Australia who cut her foot while playing in the garden

Wondering why it doesn’t happen more often?

Most kids are vaccinated and protected!

And most parents, even those who are scared to vaccinate their kids, understand that tetanus is basically everywhere and almost impossible to avoid.

More on Unvaccinated Kids with Tetanus

Can Vaccines Cause Rhabdomyolysis?

The urine is dark because of myoglobinuria secondary to muscle break down. Hemoglobinuria, from blood, is the other thing that makes urine dark.
The urine is dark because of myoglobinuria secondary to muscle break down. Hemoglobinuria, from blood, is the other thing that makes urine dark. Photo Kumar et al (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US).

You have probably never heard of rhabdomyolysis.

Children with rhabdomyolysis have severe muscle pain, muscle weakness, and dark urine.

It is classically caused by exercising too much (really overdoing it or exercising a lot more or a lot longer than you typically do) and damaging your muscles, leading to a breakdown of muscle cells and the release of creatine kinase, which in addition to muscle symptoms, can lead to kidney failure.

In addition to exercise, rhabdomyolysis can be caused by seizures, drugs, toxins, insect stings, snake bites, metabolic disorders, infections (viral myositis), and trauma.

“The most common causes of pediatric rhabdomyolysis were viral myositis (38%), trauma (26%), and connective tissue disease (5%).”

Mannix et al on Acute Pediatric Rhabdomyolysis: Causes and Rates of Renal Failure

Keep in mind that rhabdomyolysis is rare. You won’t confuse the aches and pains that most kids get, and which often get blamed on growing pains, with rhabdomyolysis. Although younger kids don’t always have dark urine when they have rhabdo, the pain and weakness is severe. Seek immediate medical attention if you think that your child might have rhabdomyolysis.

Can Vaccines Cause Rhabdomyolysis?

It is well known that rhabdomyolysis can be caused by infections.

“Rhabdomyolysis has been reported to be associated with a variety of viral infections, including influenza, [15,16] Coxsackie virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), echovirus and cytomegalovirus [17]. In our series, the definite viral infection was identified in 5 patients (influenza type B in 4, Coxsackie A10 in 1)”

Chen et al on Clinical spectrum of rhabdomyolysis presented to pediatric emergency department

So if a natural influenza virus infection can cause rhabdomyolysis, does that mean that the flu vaccine can too? What about other vaccines?

Not necessarily, but there are a few case reports that associate vaccines with rhabdomyolysis.

“Influenza A infection has been described as a major viral cause of infection-induced rhabdomyolysis, but to date, only one reported case was described as having been induced by influenza vaccine.”

Callado et al on Rhabdomyolysis secondary to influenza A H1N1 vaccine resulting in acute kidney injury.

In several of the reports, patients already had chronic medical problems for which they were being treated. Still, no signal was found to suggest that the flu vaccine is a problem for these patients.

It is important to note that reports of post-vaccination rhabdomyolysis in healthy people are even rarer.

So while it is could be possible that vaccines are rarely associated with rhabdomyolysis, we know that many infections, including many vaccine-preventable diseases, are a more common cause.

Don’t skip or delay a vaccine because you might have heard that vaccines cause rhabdomyolysis.

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

More on Vaccines and Rhabdomyolysis