No Immediate Need to Get Tetanus Shot Before Recovery Work Begins
The Tennessee Department of Health is working with the Metro Nashville Health Department and other county health departments to educate residents about tetanus and who is and is not at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to flood waters or debris does not increase your risk for tetanus.
“It’s not necessary to get a tetanus shot just because you have been in flood water. Being in flood water does not increase your risk for developing tetanus,” said state Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “You should get a tetanus shot if you haven’t had one in 10 years or more.”
Tetanus is a very rare but serious illness caused when C. tetani bacteria, which is found naturally in the soil, enter puncture wounds or cuts. It is easily prevented through routine vaccination of children and adults.
Adults and children should receive a dose of tetanus vaccine every 10 years. If you experience a cut or puncture wound, you should clean it with soap and water, and consult your health care provider. Under these circumstances, your health care provider may recommend that you receive a tetanus booster if it has been more than five years since your last dose. Many health care providers, immunizing pharmacists and all local health departments routinely offer tetanus-containing vaccines for people who need it.
The most important tools to prevent illness from flood waters are soap and clean water. Wash your hands frequently and keep minor cuts and scrapes clean. If you have concerns about an injury or think a cut is getting infected, contact your health care provider.