Tag: tetanus

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

Risks and Benefits of Vaccines – Anti-Vax Edition

Anti-vax folks like to say that they are doing their research, even collecting that research into handy binders. And they like to think that they are looking at both the risks and benefits of vaccines when they make their decision to skip or delay their child’s vaccines.

When anti-vax folks look at the risks and benefits of vaccines, they see lots of risks and few benefits.
When anti-vax folks look at the risks and benefits of vaccines, they see lots of risks and few benefits.

Like their research, their method of considering the risks and benefits of vaccines is very flawed

Risks and Benefits of Vaccines – Anti-Vax Edition

What’s the first thing you notice when you look at Ashley Everly‘s chart?

She doesn’t have a column for when a child Should Be Vaccinated!

Although there are no optional vaccines, there are some situations in which getting vaccinated and protected is truly essential, including:

  • a child bitten by a dog, coyote, or bat with rabies
  • a completely unvaccinated teen who gets a deep puncture wound while playing in a field
  • a baby born to a mother with hepatitis B
  • an unvaccinated older teen living in a dorm on a college campus where there is an ongoing outbreak of meningococcemia
  • a preschooler with a cochlear implant
  • an unvaccinated 1st grader who’s sibling is starting chemotherapy for leukemia
  • unvaccinated kids traveling out of the country to parts of the world where vaccine-preventable diseases are still endemic
  • a child with asplenia

Does she really think that the benefits of the rabies vaccine don’t outweigh the risks? Does she understand what happens if you get rabies, even if your child has access to nutritious food, clean drinking water, and emergency medical care?

Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?

What else is wrong with Ashley Everly‘s risk and benefit chart?

Most of the things on her list of who should not be vaccinated are not true contraindications.

Of course, the one about having a “previous vaccine injury or serious reaction” would likely be a reason to not get that vaccine again, as long as the injury or reaction was really caused by the vaccine.

Are there situations in which the potential benefit of vaccination might not outweigh the vaccines risks?

“Events or conditions listed as precautions should be reviewed carefully. Benefits of and risks for administering a specific vaccine to a person under these circumstances should be considered. If the risk from the vaccine is believed to outweigh the benefit, the vaccine should not be administered. If the benefit of vaccination is believed to outweigh the risk, the vaccine should be administered. Whether and when to administer DTaP to children with proven or suspected underlying neurologic disorders should be decided on a case-by-case basis.”

ACIP Contraindications and Precautions

Those situations are called precautions.

Fortunately, most are temporary, such as having a “moderate or severe acute illness with or without fever.”

These precautions do not include having a family history of cancer or autoimmune disease.

When Vaccination May Be Unnecessary

Are there any situations in which vaccination may be unnecessary?

There are a few, including:

  • when a disease is eradicated
  • when you aren’t at risk to get a disease and there is little risk that there will be an outbreak in your community or a return if folks stop vaccinating – that’s why we don’t routinely vaccinate against yellow fever, cholera, and typhoid fever, etc. in the United States
  • when you get sick and develop natural immunity

Vaccination is still necessary if a child’s mother is breastfeeding (which doesn’t protect against most vaccine-preventable diseases), has natural immunity to wild type infections (passive immunity quickly wears off), and even if the child has access to nutritious food and clean drinking water.

Nearly two months in the ICU vs getting a tetanus shot… How do the risks and benefits stack up now?

And yes, getting vaccinated and protected is even necessary if a child has access to emergency medical care.

What to Know About the Risks and Benefits of Vaccines

While you should certainly consider the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated, understand that vaccines are safe, with few risks, and very necessary.

More on the Risks and Benefits of Vaccines

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