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

January 20, 2019

This is a powerful day. The Sun enters Aquarius during the early morning hours while the nearly Full Moon chugs along through her own sign of Cancer. Venus is at odds with Neptune, setting the stage for tonight’s Supermoon lunar eclipse. While the Sun…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

January 2019

Join acupuncturist and eastern medicine specialist Linda Davis to: 1) Learn and practice a simple method to access your pendulum’s divination powers; 2) experience various types of...

Cost: $20–$25

Where:
Portal Crystal Gallery
489 Massachusetts Ave
Arlington, MA  02474
View map »


Telephone: 781-859-5373
Website »

More information

Once used as a diagnostic tool for physicians, the palms and hands give us insight into physical health and emotional well-being. Learning to decipher the differences in hands and the meanings...

Cost: $250

Where:
The Soul Purpose
1225 Gar Highway
Swansea, MA  02777
View map »


Sponsor: The Soul Purpose
Telephone: 774-264-1329
Contact Name: Jessica Kozak
Website »

More information

Celebrating the new year, the new you!  Come detox, relax and get your new year readings while you recharge in our sanctuary! We have a fun line up of readers and healers providing...

Cost: $60- 3 Service package special; $25 - single service

Where:
Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Road
Suite A
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey Smith
Website »

More information

Did you know that forgiveness heals? It can reduce depression, ease anxiety, increase our well-being, and facilitate the body's natural healing response. Many of us may get the concept of...

Cost: $60

Where:
private office
North Andover, MA  01845


Sponsor: Diana Harris
Telephone: 978-973-6637
Contact Name: Diana Harris
Website »

More information

The most powerful things in the universe are invisible. Energy which is the most powerful of physical and spiritual forces is invisible. The most precious and important things that matter in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Inner Space Meditation Center & Gallery
1110 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA  02138
View map »


Telephone: 617-547-1110
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Show More...
Show Less...

MBSR: Mindful Based Stress Reduction Mindfulness, as taught in the MBSR program, is recognized worldwide as the gold standard in mindfulness training and is one of the greatest...

Cost: Free

Where:
Life Care PT
38 Southwest Cutoff
Northborough, MA  01532
View map »


Sponsor: The Center for Resilient Living
Telephone: 508-556-7022
Contact Name: Ginny Wholley
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

“Master your breath, let the self be in bliss, contemplate on the sublime within you.” —Krishnamacharya Join us for an evening of deep exploration and transformation using...

Cost: $30 (limited hardship rates available)

Where:
Spontaneous Celebrations
45 Danforth Street
Jamaica Plain, MA  02130
View map »


Telephone: 617-233-6410
Contact Name: Allen B. Howell
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Listen as Lauren channels messages from loved ones to prove you are never alone. An intimate event with tested and endorsed research medium.  Visit website for tickets. Doors open at 6:30...

Cost: $50

Where:
The Spiritual Path with Lauren Bortolami
129 N. Main Street
Mansfield, MA  02048
View map »


Sponsor: Lauren Bortolami Robbins
Telephone: 508-339-8111
Contact Name: Lauren Robbins
Website »

More information

With Sherri Snyder-Roche. This yoga workshop will explore self-compassion, self-love and pushing through discomfort to help your recovery process. Recovery from divorce, eating disorders,...

Cost: $95 for 6 weeks or $17 drop in

Where:
State of Grace Yoga and Wellness Center
104 E. Hartford Avenue, Unit A
Uxbridge, MA  01569
View map »


Telephone: 508-278-2818
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Women Rising Together—Women’s Workshop This workshop is designed for women who are facing a challenge and would like to come together with other spiritually minded women to explore...

Cost: $25

Where:
Apple Tree Arts
1 Grafton Common
Grafton, MA  01519
View map »


Contact Name: Christine Johnson

More information

Intuitive medium Laura Wooster is honored to present this evening of spirit messages from your loved ones on the other side. She will deliver evidential messages of love, hope, and comfort from...

Cost: $25

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Holistic Problem-Solving with Dr. HermanSJr. Tired of missing opportunities that could further your life, your education, even your work? Tired of missing threats that continue to hold back your...

Cost: $100

Where:
Caffe Nero
368 Congress Street
Boston, MA  02210
View map »


Telephone: 321.30.PSYCH(7792)
Contact Name: Soni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Instructor: Stacey Piwinski Adult Level Spend half a winter’s day working with warm, cozy, and colorful yarn! Each participant will learn to weave their own circular weaving, starting...

Cost: $65

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


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

More information

Start this intensive January 26 This is an excellent series for those who are on a healing journey of any sort, as we access the Akashic field of energy to clear your path and...

Cost: $860 or three payments of $366

Where:
, MA


Telephone: (978) 835-0005
Contact Name: Nancy

More information

Holistic Problem-Solving with Dr. HermanSJr. Tired of missing opportunities that could further your life, your education, even your work? Tired of missing threats that continue to hold back your...

Cost: $100

Where:
Caffe Nero
368 Congress Street
Boston, MA  02210
View map »


Telephone: 321.30.PSYCH(7792)
Contact Name: Soni
Website »

More information

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