FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2023
Contact: Natalie Shelton – 706.302.6707
Cleaning up tornado and storm damage? Make sure you have your tetanus shot
As residents, responders, and volunteers continue cleaning up the damage caused by the EF3 tornado that struck in Troup County early Sunday morning, District 4 Public Health reminds individuals that a tetanus vaccination is recommended if it’s been 10 years or more since their last tetanus vaccination.
“If someone accidentally steps on a rusty nail or gets cut on broken glass, they may just clean up the wound and move on,” said Leslie Leonard, nurse manager at the Troup County Health Department. “But when you’re in the middle of so much metal, mud and debris, it’s especially important to talk to your health care provider to see if you need a tetanus shot, especially if it’s a deep puncture wound or cut.”
Public health officials normally recommend adults receive a tetanus vaccine (Td or Tdap) every 10 years. However, if you experience a deep cut or puncture wound while clearing storm debris (or while in a similar environment), your health care provider may recommend a tetanus booster if it’s been more than five years since your last dose.
Individuals in direct contact with recent floodwaters—or the mud left behind—should also make sure their tetanus vaccinations are up-to-date, especially if they had existing open wounds or cuts, Leonard said.
When clearing storm debris, one should wear sturdy (preferably hard-bottom) shoes or boots, said Johnny Langley, District 4’s interim emergency preparedness director. When high temperatures are not an issue, long sleeves and long pants are recommended. People are also strongly urged to wear thick gloves and protective glasses or goggles to lessen the chance for injuries.
Local county health departments, as well as many health care providers and immunizing pharmacists, offer Td and Tdap vaccines. The Td vaccine protects against tetanus and diphtheria, while the Tdap vaccine protects again tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).
Call (800) 847-4262 to make an appointment to receive the vaccine at any of District 4’s health departments in Butts, Carroll, Coweta, Fayette, Heard, Henry, Lamar, Meriwether, Pike, Spalding, Troup and Upson counties.
For more information, visit cdc.gov/tetanus.
What is tetanus?
Tetanus is a very rare but serious illness caused when C. tetani bacteria—which usually can be found in soil, dust and manure—enter the body through breaks in the skin, usually cuts or puncture wounds caused by contaminated objects.
Are some people more at risk?
Those most at risk for tetanus infection—which does not spread from person to person—include those who have never had a tetanus vaccine or have not stayed up to date on their 10-year tetanus booster shots. Tetanus causes fatalities in up to 30 percent of the unvaccinated who were infected with the bacteria.
The most important tools to prevent illness during the clean-up process are soap and clean water. Wash your hands frequently, and keep minor cuts and scrapes clean. Seek medical care for more serious cuts or wounds. If you have concerns about an injury or think a cut is getting infected, contact your health care provider.
Tetanus Vaccination Schedule Guidelines
Public health officials recommend infants get a round of tetanus vaccinations starting when they’re a few months old. An adult who has never gotten a tetanus shot should complete the initial tetanus series of three tetanus shots. After that series, it’s recommended to get a tetanus shot every 10 years. All adults and children ages 11 and up should receive one tetanus vaccine that also contains the Pertussis booster (Tdap).
Recommendations for routine tetanus immunization:
- Children: DTaP at ages 2, 4, 6, 12-15 months, and 4-6 years of age
- Adolescents: a single dose of Tdap at 11-12 years of age, then Td every 10 years
- Adults: a single dose of Tdap, then Td every 10 years