So What About Tetanus?


Published:

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

In discussions about the pros and cons of certain vaccines, inevitably the question comes up… “Well, surely you don’t have any problem with the tetanus vaccine?” Usually, the question is followed up with a second question… “I mean, if you stepped on a nail, you’d definitely want to get a tetanus shot, right?”

For the purposes of this article, let’s put aside the first question and focus on the second one, because it is the second question that is the important one. Imagine that your child is playing barefoot outside and accidentally gets cut by stepping on something sharp, like a nail protruding from an old piece of wood. What is your immediate fear? That the wound will become infected with tetanus bacteria (Clostridium tetani) and come down with lockjaw.1

This is a reasonable concern, given that tetanus (which is not contagious) is caused by a bacterium in soil, manure and the digestive tracts of animals and humans. The bacteria spores can enter the body through a puncture wound as small as a pin prick and cause lockjaw. Globally, thousands of deaths in Africa and other developing countries are caused by tetanus, many of them newborns who die after umbilical cords are cut using instruments contaminated with tetanus spores.2

The incubation period for tetanus bacteria is relatively short. Symptoms for lockjaw can appear between three days to three weeks. They include “muscular stiffness of the jaw and neck, headache, irritability, fever, and chills.”3 According to the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC):

As the disease progresses, the body becomes rigid and locked in spasm with head drawn back, and legs and feet extended. The jaw becomes unable to open with difficulty in swallowing and convulsions may also occur.3

There are still cases of tetanus in the U.S., including deaths, although they are rare. In 2009, there were a total of 19 cases in the United States and two deaths were reported.2,4

It sounds scary but less so if you understand this one key fact: Tetanus bacteria, which secrete toxins (tetanolysin and tetanospasmin5) that can cause lockjaw, cannot survive in the presence of oxygen.3 Deep puncture wounds that do not bleed are an ideal place for tetanus bacteria to enter the body and be protected by tissue and skin from direct exposure to oxygen in the air, which serves as a “perfect environment for tetanus bacteria to multiply and cause infection.”3

Wounds to the skin that bleed a lot deny tetanus bacteria the kind of environment it requires to live and grow. Wounds that bleed and are cleaned and disinfected properly, rather than sealed in some way, are far less likely to get infected. The important point to remember is that tetanus bacteria are anaerobic, which means that they can only live in the “absence of air.” So in order to deny the tetanus bacteria what they need to live, the wound should remain exposed to oxygen as long as possible.

In a lecture given in Sweden in 2014, Suzanne Humphries, MD explained:

If you properly treat the wound and air can get to it and no abscess forms and you continue to disinfect, you will not develop tetanus. So it’s very key to for a wound to heal from inside out. You don’t want a wound to start to seal over on the outside before the inside is healed properly because anything that’s trapped under the skin will fester, there won’t be enough air and this susceptibility can happen.6

Dr. Humphries went on to list her recommendations for proper wound care, noting that the first step is to allow the wound to bleed (not hemorrhage). “The first thing people want to do when there’s a wound is to stop the bleeding, but unless you have severed an artery, you don’t stop the bleeding,” she stressed.

I cut my thumb a few weeks ago, and I stood over the sink and just let it bleed for about a minute because you want to flush from inside to outside. You want your immune cells to be going through, and it’s a way to cleanse the wound. So you want to bleed first.7

The point is that proper wound care is central to avoiding any type of bacteria from causing harm.

When it comes to getting a tetanus shot in the emergency room after a skin wound, particularly a wound that is highly unlikely to be contaminated with tetanus spores that live in soil, manure and the digestive tracts of animals and humans, there are a lot of factors to consider. It takes days after getting a tetanus containing vaccine for antibody levels against the tetanus bacteria toxins to rise in the blood, and by then symptoms of tetanus infection may have already begun to appear.8

There are also serious adverse effects associated with tetanus containing vaccines (DT, Td, DTaP, Tdap), including “redness, swelling and pain at the injection site; headache; fatigue, sore and swollen joints; muscle weakness; fever; chills; nausea; shock; neuropathy; convulsions; encephalopathy; paralysis; Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS); death.”3

(Note that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends one dose of the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) for protection against tetanus infection. The CDC recommends that any subsequent tetanus shots should be given as Td (tetanus and diphtheria). It states that the “minimal interval after a previous dose of any tetanus-containing vaccine” is five years and the “recommended interval” is 10 years.9)

According to Russell Blaylock, MD, “The tetanus vaccine has one of the highest complication rates of any vaccine—equal to that of the hepatitis B and Gardasil vaccines. The evidence suggests that such vaccines among older persons can increase one’s risk of a number of neurological disorders.”10

It’s also worth noting that in the U.S. the tetanus vaccine is only available in combination with other vaccines, so if you want only tetanus vaccine you will not be able to get it. The four choices are DT (diphtheria and tetanus), DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), Td, and Tdap.11

According to CDC, what is recommended for people with skin wounds highly likely to be associated tetanus bacteria is tetanus immune globulin (TIG) antitoxin, which helps “remove unbound tetanus toxin,” although it is not effective in removing toxin “bound to nerve endings.”12

TIG contains vaccine acquired tetanus bacteria antibodies from donated human blood.13

The adverse effects of TIG appear to be typically less severe than tetanus vaccine and include difficulty in breathing or swallowing; hives; itching (especially of soles or palms); reddening of skin (especially around ears); swelling of eyes, face, or inside of nose; unusual tiredness or weakness (sudden and severe).14

In short, the question of what to do if you step on a nail and, especially if a wound to the skin bleeds and is not associated with soil, animal or human waste products, isn’t a simple black or white question. It’s not just vaccinate or do nothing.

There are multiple factors to consider, and the option you choose will depend on the type of skin injury, your level of knowledge regarding the tetanus bacteria, the importance of proper wound care, the benefits and risks of tetanus vaccine in light of a personal and family medical history, and other factors that deserve thoughtful consideration.

This article was republished from The Vaccine Reaction.

See also:
Flu Vaccine Effectiveness In Question
Vaccine Studies Debunked

References:
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tetanus. CDC.gov.
2 Kyu HH, Mumford JE et al. Mortality from tetanus between 1990 and 2015: findings from the global burden of disease study: 2015. BMC Public Health 2017; 17:178.
3 National Vaccine Information Center. Tetanus Disease and Vaccine. NVIC.org.
4 CDC. Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. CDC.gov.
5 CDC. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. CDC.gov.
6 Humphries S. Dr. Humphries on tetanus, immunity and epigenetics. YouTube.com (published Oct. 28, 2014).
7 Humphries S. Tetanus, prevention, wound care and vitamin C. YouTube.com (published Oct. 29, 2014).
8 Gaublomme K. Tetanus Toxoid Vaccination: An Overview. International Medical Council on Vaccination September 1996.
9 CDC. Recommended and Minimum Ages and Intervals Between Doses of Routinely Recommended Vaccines. CDC.gov.
10 Blaylock R. Should I Get a Tetanus Shot? Newsmax Sept. 16, 2013.
11 CDC. Tetanus Vaccination. CDC.gov.
12 CDC. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. CDC.gov.
13 Health Link British Columbia. Tetanus Immune Globulin. HealthLinkBC.ca.
14 PubMed Health. Tetanus Immune Globulin (Intramuscular route). National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

August 18, 2018

Early morning apprehensions could be a response to the taut energies of the first quarter Moon in Scorpio. It isn’t easy being the center of attention while also craving solitude. By daybreak the Moon is approaching an engaging sextile with Mars…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

August 2018

A fantastic shopping and educational experience for the whole family! Vendors come from New England, across the US, and many foreign countries to exhibit minerals, fossils, gemstones, jewelry,...

Cost: $8 adults, under 13 free

Where:
Eastern States Exposition
1305 Memorial Ave.
West Springfield, MA  01089
View map »


Sponsor: LLD Productions, Inc.
Telephone: 505-867-0425
Contact Name: Regina Aumente
Website »

More information

Readings, healings, vendors, presentations.

Cost: Free

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn
85 Glastonbury Blvd.
South Glastonbury, CT  06066
View map »


Website »

More information

During the weekend of August 10-12, 2018 we will gather again at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts for the 44th Annual NOFA SC. This immersive annual gathering is an opportunity to come...

Cost: See website

Where:
Hampshire College
Amherst, MA


Sponsor: Northeast Organic Farming Association
Telephone: 774-262-7986
Contact Name: Marjorie Bailey
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

August 13 - 17, 9am - 1pm Instructor: Peyton Pugmire For student entering grades 6-8 iPhones are amazing, but you know what’s even more amazing? You! During this imaginative week...

Cost: $250

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Sponsor: Creative Spirit
Telephone: 781-797-0389
Website »

More information

August 13 - 16 Juan Li has been teaching Daoist energy practices for the last 27 years. He has created a sequence of practices based on the I Ching, adapted to the emotional and mental...

Cost: $950 single retreat; $1650 for both retreats (8/16)

Where:
Angels’ Rest Retreat
63 North County Road
Leyden, MA  01337
View map »


Sponsor: Tao Retreats
Telephone: 212-243-6771
Contact Name: Sharon Smith
Website »

More information

August 13 - 14 This fun and exciting healing workshop guarantees you valuable knowledge and powerful skills to keep you in a higher vibration of energy and flowing with infinite intelligence and...

Where:
Royal Plaza Best Western
Marlborough, MA


Sponsor: Geozuwa
Telephone: 646-606-9935
Website »

More information

August 13 - 21 With NLP training and master healer certification. This course is specifically designed for healers of every modality. For information call (646) 606-9935 or visit...

Where:
Marlboro, MA


Telephone: 646-606-9935
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

August 14 - 24 For millennia people have entered the wilderness to encounter Spirit and seek their direction, purpose, or medicine. If you are seeking guidance and renewal, or you’re...

Cost: $1295

Where:
Somerset Lake
P.O. Box 48
Putney, VT  05346
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Air and Stone
Telephone: 802-387-6624
Contact Name: Sparrow Hart
Website »

More information

What better way to end a busy day than with a little bliss. We'll support your body right where it is today and help you to open your spine to find more movement and flexibility. Begin and end...

Cost: $18

Where:
Body Love Wellness Center
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Sponsor: Bliss Through Yoga
Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Yoga is an ancient behavioral practice that allows for the development and enhancement of mind-body skills and behavioral factors including physical functioning, self-regulation of internal...

Cost: Free

Where:
CIC Cambridge
One Broadway
Charles Conference Room, 14th Floor
Cambridge, MA  02142
View map »


Sponsor: CIC Wellness
Telephone: 617-953-0674
Contact Name: Shakti Rowan
Website »

More information

Barbara Macias will present an information workshop on the benefits of essential oils. A demonstration of the oils will be included. Please RSVP at katboston@comcast.net

Cost: Free

Where:
NBA Business Center
145 Washington Street
Route 53
Norwell, MA  02061
View map »


Sponsor: Mind Balance Hypnosis
Telephone: 339-788-1193
Contact Name: Kathryn Caruso

More information

Relax and restore this summer with free outdoor yoga classes on historic Rogers Field! We’re packing the lawn with yogis of all levels for yoga led by experienced practitioners from Dragonfly...

Cost: Free

Where:
Rogers Field
Devens, MA


Sponsor: Dragonfly Wellness Center
Telephone: 978-487-7181
Contact Name: Anne Ferguson
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

August 16 - 19 Magnetic-harmonic vibrational therapist, Jay Emmanuel, A.K., N.S.,V.M. shares powerful energy techniques that use the forces of sounds produced by the human voice in combination...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

August 16 - 19 Juan Li has been teaching Daoist energy practices for the last 27 years. He has created a sequence of practices based on the I Ching, adapted to the emotional and mental...

Cost: $950 single retreat; $1650 for both retreats (8/13)

Where:
Angels’ Rest Retreat
63 North County Road
Leyden, MA  01337
View map »


Sponsor: Tao Retreats
Telephone: 212-243-6771
Contact Name: Sharon Smith
Website »

More information

Daily practice for peace, healing, Christ mindedness, meditation, awakening.

Where:
Milton, MA


Telephone: 617-696-5685
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

With June Edward, “The Massachusette Medium” This is a mediumship gallery with June Edward, the “Massachusetts Medium!” Have you ever wanted to talk to someone on the...

Cost: $55 on Eventbrite, $60 at door

Where:
Plymouth Lodge AF & AM
116 S Meadow Rd
Plymouth, MA  02360
View map »


Sponsor: June Edward “The Massachusetts Medium”
Telephone: 508-259-1231
Contact Name: June Edward
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Guide: Peyton Pugmire Ages 16+ Like meditating with a paintbrush! Escape your stress and routine and re-connect with yourself, your heart and soul - one brushstroke at a time. This fun...

Cost: $85 (includes cost of all supplies)

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Telephone: 781-797-0389
Contact Name: Peyton Pugmire
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags