Talk to Your Patients About: Tetanus
By Sean Price

There is a lot of misinformation about vaccines, so each month Texas Medicine magazine highlights a disease that childhood and adult immunizations can prevent. The material is designed to help you talk to your patients about the severity of these diseases and to help them understand the benefits of vaccines. 

The April issue of Texas Medicine highlights tetanus, which causes painful spasms that typically occur in jaw muscles but can wrack the entire body, and can be fatal.

Sharp, rusty objects like nails often get blamed for causing tetanus, but the disease actually spreads by Clostridium tetani spores in the environment. They can be found in dirt and feces, so just about anything that breaks the skin – a  bike accident, a cut while digging in soil, a dog bite – potentially can inject tetanus spores into the body where they turn into bacteria.

The DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis) or the DT (diphtheria-tetanus) vaccine is used for children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends they be given in five doses: at 2, 4, and 6 months; between 15 and 18 months; and between 4 and 6 years of age. Preteens should get a booster (the Tdap or Td) at age 11 or 12, and adults should get a booster every 10 years.

Click on the infographic below for a printable copy to hang in your practice, and visit the TMA website to see a video and more information about tetanus for your patients. Also, check out articles on efforts to raise immunization awareness and how funding is used to increase vaccination rates.

TMA actively works to improve vaccination rates in Texas through its Be Wise — ImmunizeSM program. More than 340,000 shots have been given to Texas children, adolescents, and adults since the program began in 2004. It is funded in 2019 by the TMA Foundation thanks to H-E-B, TMF Health Quality Institute, Pfizer Inc., and gifts from physicians and their families.

Be Wise – Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.

Last Updated On

April 08, 2019

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Sean Price


(512) 370-1392

Sean Price is a reporter for Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. He grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He's worked as an award-winning writer and editor for a variety of national magazine, book, and website publishers in New York and Washington. He's also helped produce Texas-based marketing campaigns designed to promote public health. Sean lives in Austin and enjoys hiking, photography, and spending time with his wife and two sons.

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