HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – With recent flooding throughout the commonwealth and additional flooding possible over the next few days, Acting Secretary of Health and Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine today recommended that residents check with their health care provider to ensure their tetanus immunization is current.
“Flooding is common in Pennsylvania, especially this time of year when conditions are right for severe storms and flash flooding,” Dr. Levine said. “Since the bacteria that causes tetanus can be found on contaminated objects in flood debris and enter the skin through cuts or puncture wounds, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. You never know when an emergency is going to happen, so it’s important to make sure that your vaccinations are up to date, including tetanus.”
Residents who are uninsured or underinsured and need a tetanus shot can contact their local state health center between 8:30 AM and 4:00 PM to set up an appointment for a free immunization. Those with insurance should contact their doctor or pharmacy to receive a tetanus booster.
“If you haven’t had a tetanus booster in the past 10 years, a single injection should be administered after potential tetanus exposure,” Dr. Levine said. “If you received severe wounds from clearing debris and more than five years has passed since your last immunization, your health care provider may recommend a booster.”
Tetanus immune globulin (TIG), antitoxin, or antibiotics may be given if the patient has not been previously immunized.
Tetanus, sometimes called “lockjaw,” can cause symptoms such as fever, jaw cramping, muscle spasms and seizures. Tetanus is contracted through a wound that encounters soil or debris contaminated with the tetanus bacteria. It is not transmitted from person to person. Tetanus can also occur following drug injection using contaminated needles, equipment, or drugs.
For more information on tetanus or vaccines available near you, visit www.health.pa.gov