RediMed patients ask:
The answer is: maybe.
You see, chances are you've already received a tetanus shot. The best defense against tetanus infection is vaccination, and in most parts of the United States, tetanus vaccinations are required before starting grade school. So most people are immunized by the time they are 5 years old. However, it is recommended that you get a booster shot every 10 years.
So, when did you have your last booster shot? If it's been less than 5 years, no shot is required if you get a nasty cut. But if it's been more than 5 years from your booster, then a tetanus booster may be needed. If this is necessary, we suggest a combination booster shot called TDPA (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Acellular Pertussis). This is recommended because of the increase in the incidence of Pertussis (a.k.a. Whooping Cough). We suggest you find out when you had your last shot and schedule a booster if necessary.
In the meantime, if you step on a nail or suffer a wound that is deep and dirty, and haven't had a tetanus shot in the past 10 years, get help fast. Seek medical attention immediately and rinse the wound with tap water. Do not cleanse with soap or apply antiseptic to a deep wound. Come to RediMed and we'll get you the medical help you need fast.
By the way, what exactly is Tetanus?
Tetanus is a severe, occasionally fatal disease, caused by the toxin of bacteria. Tetanus typically infects the body through a dirty or deep wound, like a rusty nail or puncture wound, but even small cuts can expose you to the bacteria. Tetanus is also called "lockjaw," because it causes spasms of muscles of the neck and jaw. Because it is potentially fatal, mandatory vaccination has become the norm in most states.
Signs of Infection:
Be aware of the first signs of tetanus infection. Also known as lockjaw, tetanus causes stiffness of the neck, difficulty swallowing, rigidity of abdominal muscles, spasms, sweating and fever. Symptoms usually begin eight days after the infection, but occur anywhere within three days to three weeks.
Source: American College of Emergency Physicians. http://www3.acep.org/patients.aspx?id=26078