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A Dose of Reality: Tetanus Vaccines Fail To Protect

on September 10 | in Vaccines | by | with 170 Comments

should I get a tetanus shot

“If you don’t do the DTaP (diptheria, tetanus and acellullar pertussis vaccine), what do you do if your child steps on a rusty nail? Do you choose to wait until that happens and go get a tetanus shot at that time instead of doing it as prevention?”

~ Comment from Lisa K. on this post

Great question, Lisa! Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Antibodies Do Not Equal Immunity

According to the CDC, “Because of the extreme potency of the toxin, tetanus disease does not result in tetanus immunity.”

How is it, then, that can you vaccinate successfully against tetanus? If the purpose of vaccination is to simulate normal immune responses with weakened or dead pathogens, why would vaccination yield immunity when the actual disease can’t?

According to experts, it’s because the bacteria that causes tetanus - Clostridium tetani – produces a neurotoxin which inhibits our ability to create the antibodies that fight infection. By introducing a dead form of the toxin (which cannot block antibody production) doctors hope that patients will build up immunity to the toxin. It seems like a plausible idea, but is that possible?

According to some experts, the answer is yes . . . and no. While it is is possible that the body will create antibodies to the toxin, antibody response to a vaccine does not equal immunity or protection. (Source 1, Source 2). The presence of antibodies after a vaccination indicates exposure to a pathogen, but it alone does not confer immunity.

Here’s what I mean: Say you send your first grader to school with the answers to her second period quiz in her back pocket. When test time arrives she has to go through the hassle of digging through her folders to find the answer sheet, read your chicken scratch handwriting (or maybe that’s just mine!), and write down the answers. She had to go through **some** effort to earn that A+, but having the right answers on that test does NOT mean she learned anything, or that she will be prepared to handle real-life events based on her “success” with the test.

In the case of the tetanus vaccine, injecting the body with dead toxins is essentially like handing it the answers to a quiz. Unless the whole immune system fully engages a live version of the pathogen it does not really learn anything. This is evidenced by the fact that according to this statement from the University of Chicago’s Neurology department, individuals with extremely high levels of titers (antibodies) can still contract severe – even fatal – tetanus. The idea that antibodies equal immunity is magical thinking not supported by the many documented cases of disease outbreaks among fully vaccinated populations. In fact, in one investigation into why a Corpus Christi middle school had an outbreak, researchers said that:

We conclude that outbreaks of measles can occur in secondary schools, even when more than 99 percent of the students have been vaccinated and more than 95 percent are immune.”

Okay, you may be thinking, the tetanus vaccine probably won’t work. But what harm can a little magical thinking do, really? Why not just get the vaccine in case? Well, according to a letter published by the The New England Journal of Medicine, the tetanus booster shot can actually cause T cells (vital to immune system function) to drop below normal, with the greatest decrease up to 2 weeks later. In some cases, the researchers observed that the T-cell count fell to levels found in active AIDS patients. Scary, yes? And that’s before we consider the generous dose of aluminum potassium sulfate, bovine extract, formaldehyde or formalin and Thimerosal (for adult doses) contained in each syringe!

Sadly, magical thinking is just the beginning. Much of the information we’ve been given regarding tetanus vaccination is either incomplete, misleading or flat out wrong.

Let’s Explore That, Shall We?

What I wish my dust bunnies looked like!

By now you’ve probably heard that tetanus exposure can come from rusty nails, but I’ll bet no one’s mentioned that it can also come from those dust bunnies under your bed, that toy your baby just dropped in the dirt and put in her mouth, and in that cow patty you scraped off your boot after the barn dance.

Yep, Clostridium tetani is actually found in common household dust, animal droppings and about 1/3 of the soil sampled around the world – it’s everywhere! (Source) In fact, the only reason rusty nails are ever a concern is that they come into contact with things like soil and have the ability to puncture skin – they don’t inherently contain Clostridium tetani.

So why are we not seeing rampant epidemics? Good question!

Natural Immunity Vs. Artificial Immunity

Normally when we encounter Clostridium tetani it enters our body through our mouth or nose – by breathing dust particles that contain it or eating food that has retained some from the soil it was grown in. However, unlike with puncture wounds, ingested Clostridium tetani is unable to produce large amounts tetanospasmin, the potent neurotoxin that causes the muscle spasms and fatalities associated with tetanus infection.

In fact – and I’ll bet this is something else you won’t hear at your local pedi’s – it appears that gradual exposure to tetanus in this way may create natural immunity.

Photo © Depositphotos/imagex – Reprinted with permission

Unvaccinated Populations With Proven Natural Immunity To Tetanus

  • In this study, “410 Indians not artificially immunised against tetanus showed that 80% had measurable antitoxin” levels against tetanospasmin. Researchers concluded this was due to ingestion of Clostridium tetani over time.
  • And according to these researchers,, when “adequate conditions appear, tetanus toxin is known to stimulate the immune system and produce detectable humoral antibodies [antitoxin].  . . The existence of natural immunization was unquestionably demonstrated by presence of protective levels of tetanus antitoxin in the blood of the majority of 59 surveyed subjects considering that none of them had ever received any tetanus toxoid and most of them never received a single shot of any drug.” (emphasis mine)
  • When researchers tested the blood of 200 individuals in an isolated community it was found that 197 had measurable levels of antitoxin and about 30% had “protective levels” according to Western standards. The researchers pointed out that immunity seemed to be age related, with the youngest being the most lacking in antitoxin. It is thought that this is because the immune response occurs over a period of time.
  • In Mali, samples from 48 adults found 20 individuals with protective tetanus antibody titers, 23 with measurable levels of antitoxin, and 5 devoid of tetanus antitoxin. Ninety-nine unvaccinated children ages 3 and under were also tested and then retested 7 months later. When the first serum sample was taken 12.1% were found to have tetanus antitoxin. Seven months later 16.2% had antitoxins and 4 children were found to have “protective levels.”  According to the researchers, “The data suggest a silent oral immunization by tetanus bacilli thus boosting under unhygienic conditions the tetanus immunity with advancing age.”

Here we have our answer to how the body is designed to develop immunity to tetanus – through gradual ingestion rather than direct introduction into the bloodstream. Now, I’m NOT suggesting that you go out and try to find some tetanus-laden dirt to consume - we’ll be discussing far more effective ways to prevent your risk of tetanus soon!

What I want to draw attention to here is how different this scenario is from the conditions that lead to tetanus infection. Clostridium tetani needs an anaerobic environment (like a puncture wound) to replicate. Cuts and scrapes which have been exposed to oxygen are not a concern. Though the digestive tract is a low-oxygen environment it also somehow manages to disable reproduction. Researchers have not indicated why they think this is, but I believe it’s because the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tracts neutralize them before they ever get established.

On the other hand, Clostridium tetani introduced through a puncture wound bypasses our natural immune defenses and flows directly into the bloodstream. In that way a tetanus vaccine is actually very similar to the most dangerous way a person can encounter tetanus – through a puncture wound! When we inject tetanus into an individual we are simulating the wrong process – the “sneak attack” on the bloodstream which overwhelms the body instead of the slow exposure through ingestion that yields immunity.

But! But!

According to the CDC, tetanus rates continue to drop despite the fact that about 40% of the population is not vaccinated against the disease.

What about the dramatic drop in tetanus cases since the introduction of the vaccine? Even if it makes no logical sense we can see that it’s effective, right?

Um, no.

As it turns out ‘[d]uring the mid-1800′s there were 205 cases of tetanus per 100,000 wounds. By the early 1900′s (before a tetanus vaccine became available), this rate had declined to 16 cases per 100,000 wounds - a 92% reduction. Some researchers attribute this decline to an increased attention to wound hygiene.”(source, emphasis mine)

Here’s another statistic you may find interesting:

During the Second World War, there were 12 recorded cases of tetanus. Four of them occurred in military personnel vaccinated against the disease . . . The majority of those cases were over 50. During that time, no deaths occurred among any tetanus cases under 30 years of age. Tetanus vaccines are not responsible for the success, since they only immunize for 12 years or less, and most of the vaccines are given to children. Yet, in contrast, the tetanus vaccine itself results in a variety of serious complications, including recurrent abscesses, high fever, inner ear nerve damage, anaphylactic shock, loss of consciousness, and demyelinating neuropathy (progressive nerve degeneration). (See U.S. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports for additional information on these statistics.)

The Vaccination Crisis

Why do most cases of tetanus occur in people over 50? According to my friend and chiro, Dr. Haggerton, it’s because some older adults have decreased circulation in their limbs due to conditions like diabetes. If they step on a sharp reed/nail/whatever and there is not enough circulation to make the wound bleed it will not properly aerate. This, of course, makes the wound an anaerobic environment where the multiplication of Clostridium tetani becomes possible. Because some diabetics experience a condition called neuropathy – decreased sensation in the feet – they may not even know they stepped on something and therefore do not clean and aerate the wound properly.

How To Prevent Tetanus

Despite what we’ve been told, there is evidence out there that plain old oxygen-rich hydrogen peroxide is more effective at preventing tetanus than the vaccine. Experts say deep puncture wounds and other at-risk injuries should be thoroughly cleaned and not allowed to close until the inner tissues have begun to heal. Make sure the wound bleeds as much as possible because the oxygen in the blood will help to aerate the wound alongside a hydrogen peroxide solution.

 What To Do If You Suspect Tetanus

There is no blood test to confirm tetanus. However, if you suspect you or someone you love has it you should immediately go to the emergency room so that a doctor can assess you. If he/she believes you have tetanus request the Tetanus Immunoglobulin (TiG) shot. The TiG is an anti-toxin serum, not a vaccine. PLEASE MAKE SURE you actually see the packaging that the anti-toxin comes in, because in many hospitals standard procedure calls for suspected tetanus patients to be given the vaccine rather than the more expensive (and honestly, painful) anti-toxin. Obviously, this makes no sense because it takes weeks for the vaccine to stimulate “protective” levels of antibodies, but that is what it currently recommended in many clinical settings.

Tetanus Toxoid = Vaccine

Tetanus Immunoglobulin = Anti-Toxin

Got it? GREAT!!! Thanks for sticking with me through this uber long post!

Questions? Comments? I Want To Hear What You Have To Say!

Photo credits: syringe and vial“dust” bunny

Note: Any information obtained here is not to be construed as medical or legal advice. The decision to vaccinate and how you implement that decision is yours and yours alone. Full Disclaimer Here

 

 

 

 

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170 Responses to A Dose of Reality: Tetanus Vaccines Fail To Protect

  1. Ann says:

    Thank you so much for this article. My youngest stepped on a nail and I was so scared but once I read if the injury bleeds he is unlikely to get tetenus. I cleaned it really well and he was fine. Scary moment and feeling guilty at that time for not vaccinating but after reading this just proves my decision was right!

    • Heather says:

      Wow, I’m really glad I didn’t say anything snarky about how that nail scenario never **really** happens! So glad you knew what to do and he’s okay!

      • mommy says:

        Just read this article like a month ago and guess what my son did a while ago? .glad to have this info and I am going to keep on researching more. He had several drips of blood coming in the back door and a lot he soaked onto his shirt sleeve so his foot seems to have bled well. I had him run warm water over it to clean his foot and then soak it in peroxide. Will be keeping a close eye on him the next few weeks.

  2. Jodi says:

    LOVED reading this article. So much info to chew on. Thanks SO MUCH for posting this.

  3. Jodi Strassheim via FB says:

    Such a great article, and so glad you did all the research for me! Thanks for laying it all out there!!!!

  4. So glad you found it helpful, Jodi Strassheim! I started looking into this when Katie was a baby and we were traveling internationally and was very surprised by what I discovered!

  5. Jodi Strassheim via FB says:

    I have always been worried about this, especially when my 9 yr old un-vaccinated son traveled on a work team last year. I had no idea what advice to give my husband in case he stepped on a nail! I’ll have to print this out ~ many thanks again ~

  6. Lisa Daniels via FB says:

    gosh. yer awesome.

  7. Thank you for this article! It is very informative and clear and will be something I can share with others that that they will understand. A lot of articles are not so easy to comprehend and it turns people off to learning the truth by having to dig through all of the scientific jargon to find the truth. I’m so glad I found your page!

  8. Megan Bradshaw via FB says:

    Great post!! Oh, FYI, your linky to LFWC is wonky :)

  9. Alexis D says:

    Great post! Thanks for the detailed information Heather! :-)

  10. Yowzers, Megan Bradshaw. Thanks for letting me know!

  11. Awesome, post. As usual. Looking forward to sharing this!

  12. Rachel Bayes via FB says:

    What a wonderful article! Thank you!

  13. Sahara says:

    Too bad you weren’t in the blogosphere when my then 5 year old impaled his foot on a long rusty roofing nail :/ they gave him a Tdap which I thought was doing the right thing even though we are no/selective vaccine family.

  14. Erin says:

    Very interesting read. Thanks for researching this.

    I just want to point out a transcription error regarding the study on natural immunity in the Mali. You write 1 and 2% when it should be 12.1 and 16.2 according to the abstract linked. The fact that 2% of a study of 99 somehow included 4 children caught my eye. :)

  15. Cathy Ceigersmidt via FB says:

    Fantastic Heather, thank you for this! Our ped has been pretty understanding about us not vaxing our 15-month-old, although she keeps bringing up Prevnar and Pertussis as being good ones to consider. She explained about how she saw a huge amount of lethal cases of pneumococcus virus in the 1990s when she was in residency training and since the intro of the vax, she’s seen zero cases of it in her practice but it’s still floating around quite a lot. I’m not caving in yet but I would feel more at ease if I had resources like your research on the Tetanus vax to refer to for peace of mind. Perhaps an idea for a future post or could you direct me to any helpful resources? Thanks!

  16. Megan says:

    Great information! Thanks for doing the research and sharing your findings.

    Question about the research regarding titers and antibodies – does this apply to all diseases? I wanted to get a pertussis titer to see if had the antibodies, but based on this information it appears that wouldn’t guarantee immunity. Am I interpreting that correctly?

  17. Cathy Ceigersmidt – Not sure if this is the kind of thing you have in mind, but I will be offering an e-course on natural parenting that included a detailed look at all pediatric vaccines this spring!

  18. heather says:

    Great post, Heather!

  19. Joli Hart says:

    Great article. This was the one vaccine I was on the fence about, as i am in the garden so much and know my child will be right along side me once they are old enough. (I had heard it was very prevelent in gardens).

    Thank you

  20. OMY GOSH HEATHER!! That is so wonderful! I can’t wait for this e-course! :)

  21. Mindy Maloney via FB says:

    Thank you for the millionth time, Heather! Really looking forward to the ecourse!

  22. Another wonderfully researched and well laid out article, Heather! Thank you for sharing your derth of knowledge on the subject. I once was worried about the Tetnus as well, but after researching and learning that cleaning and flushing the wound is the best way to fight (all) infection, I felt good about my decision.
    Can’t wait to hear more about your vaccine research!

  23. Raquel says:

    Hi Heather, I heard that using hydrogen peroxide to clean a wound is not good to do as it kills off all bacteria including the good guys.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hm….. I’ve never heard that before. You can actually take 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide (NOT the toxic junk from the store) internally, if needed. So I would definitely use food grade to clean out the wound also. It can be purchased online & in natural food stores, & you may need to dilute yourself it before using. Just read the label.

    • Beth says:

      Raquel, you are correct. Hydrogen peroxide is very deadly to many, many bacteria. it is almost as effective as bleach. It will kill both good and bad bacteria. This being said, for a small wound like a cut on your finger, this isn’t too much of an issue, get all the bacteria. However, the whole “good” and “bad” bacteria death is why antibiotics are not something to ingest lightly, you should only take them if you really need them.

      • Beth says:

        I would have to agree with Paul on this one. While the side effects can be tough, especially on young children, I think if this disease was prevalent like it is in other areas, you wouldn’t hesitate to get the vaccine. The issue is enough other people are vaccinated, so you don’t see the diseases and think you are safe. Herd immunity is real. If polio was still around (which, btw, the polio virus has a currently indefinite shelf life, a bottle of polio that has been around since 1945 is still active and completely viable), I doubt so many people would opt out of these vaccines. As well, you should look at the world rates of maternal and neonatal tetanus that UNICEF has posted. Vaccination efforts have dropped the neonatal and maternal deaths around 90% in the past 20 years from direct maternal vaccinations.

  24. Carissa says:

    Thanks for this post! It was very informative, and I feel much better about tetanus now! I have been reading a few things here and there but to see your research was icing on the cake! Also..wouldn’t it be nice if dust bunnies were that cute!!

  25. I saw that and thought “I should worry about tetanus at my next pedicure? crap!” lol

  26. Emily says:

    Wow. So much info, thanks for sharing! I’m feeling better and better about not allowing the doctors to vaccinate my baby. Do you happen to know much about whooping cough? It’s an epidemic where I live right now.

  27. Cathy Ceigersmidt via FB says:

    Mommypotamus sounds fabulous, looking forward to it!

  28. Amy Jo via FB says:

    Loved this very informative post Heather!

  29. It’s great to add scientific validity to our decisions instead of relying on fear tactics. Great job explaining the information.

  30. Thanks for this write up – it just adds more ammunition to the “no vaccine” case that my husband and I have been slowly building over the past few years. We haven’t had any run-ins with rusty-anythings (yet), but it’s comforting to know that my kids are building up their own natural immunity by doing things that any ordinary kid does!

  31. Paul B says:

    Heather, I’m afraid that several important points that you made are just plain inaccurate or untrue. Your quote from “The Vaccination Crisis” states that “…less than 100 cases of tetanus in the entire nation (U.S.) since 1976″. But then you refer to a CDC article and a ThinkTwice.com webpage, which both state there have been roughly a 30-40 cases a year, with 10-11% fatality rates! And the CDC article further states, “Previous vaccination status was directly related to severity of disease, with the case-fatality ratio ranging from 6% for patients who had received one to two doses to 15% for patients who were unvaccinated. No deaths occurred among the 16 patients who previously had received three or more doses [of vaccine]“. The data seems to show that you can still get the disease with the vaccine, but it would definitely lessen your risk of dying from it.

    Your CDC graph also shows that tetanus case have dropped 25-fold between 1947 and 1997, and during that time vaccination rates have increased to the point where 96% of all kids entering school have had 3 doses of the DTP vaccine (that’s from the CDC article). Pretty strong evidence that this vaccine has been working, along with advances in modern medicine.

    I do realize vaccines have side effects, but they usually mild, but they can also very rarely be severe. However, the benefits outweigh the risk – and it would kill me it one of my kids caught one of these easily-preventable diseases due to my stupidity. I know the odds are low, but the potentially painful/fatal risk is too crucial to ignore. Tetanus sounds like it would be a horrible condition, with your muscles contorting and sometime causing fractures and muscle tears [Wikipedia].

    As for the safety of the vaccines, the CDC site says there have been a minimum of 12 medical trials testing the effectiveness and safety of the three DTaP vaccines, before they were approved.

    So please Heather, you claim you are a researcher among other things. Please do your research before making some of these claims. You are better than many of the other bloggers out there, but you can always improve (as we all can). Remember that the doctors and researchers that approve all these drugs and vaccines all have kids and friends with kids, and want only what is best for them.

    • Heather says:

      Thank you for your comments, Paul. I have removed the statement you referred to from “The Vaccination Crisis” because it was taken from an older edition that does not have the most current info. However, the historical facts surrounding WWII tetanus cases remain unchanged. Regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine, it is my contention that tetanus cases had already dropped 92% prior to its introduction thanks to better wound care. I have not found any compelling evidence that vaccines are responsible for the downward trend that was already well underway.

      I respectfully disagree that the side effects to vaccines are mild, and though I agree with you that tetanus sounds like a horrible condition it is far less likely to occur than a vaccine injury. Considering the fact that even vaccine proponents warn that the tetanus vaccine may not prevent tetanus I really don’t see the upside here. Maybe – and I’m not convinced on this point – it reduces the severity should tetanus be contracted. In my decision making process that possibility simply does not outweigh the 5,000 cases pending against the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program for regressive autism following vaccination alone. This does not include all the parents who do not have the money or energy to sue, the families who have autoimmune disorders resulting from vaccination, the 700% increase in miscarriage rates one study found following routine flu vaccination, or the many girls that have died following the HPV vaccine.

      Vaccine safety trials are completely inadequate in their current form – they monitor for maybe a week at most in many cases when research indicates reactions can occur months later. They claim that there is no difference in health outcomes between vaccinated/unvaccinated populations when there has never been a large, controlled study dedicated to exploring that. If vaccines are so awesome why hasn’t the study been done? Researchers say it’s because it’s unethical to withhold vaccines from one group in order to discern health outcomes, but thousands upon thousands of parents who do not vaccinate have offered their children’s participation and yet still the study is not done.

      For anyone interested in learning more about this topic I highly recommend the recently released documentary: The Greater Good.

      • Mae says:

        Thanks for this great post! Our daughter is 3-1/2 mo old. We were originally leaning toward delayed vaccines, bit now are considering not doing any. I am a nurse, and was taught in school that all vaccines are good and we should encourage our patients to get them; but we never went in depth about them. You do such a great job at politely addressing commenters who disagree; you are great at what you do! P.S. I am waiting for your post about the physiological connection between mothers and their babies with great anticipation! You mentioned that on one of your SIDS posts. I’m hoping to convince my husband that our baby doesn’t need a crib when we move into our house (we are living with family right now and she has slept wiith us since birth). He isn’t against her sleeping with us, but he does think she needs to get used to sleeping by herself, and he wants to not have a baby between us all the time too :) But then I tell him how sad I would be if she didn’t sleep by me, and he says it’s ok for her to stay. Sorry that was really long! Love your blog.

        • Heather says:

          Mae, it’s so funny that you mentioned that! I actually started on that very post and then though “eh, no one probably cares about that except me” so I put it on the back burner. I will go dig it out of my drafts soon!

  32. Monica says:

    Great post Heather! Our baby girl is almost 4 months old. We were originally leaning toward a delayed vaccine schedule, but now we many not do any at all. As a nurse, I was taught in school that all vaccines are good and we need to encourage our patients to get them; we were never taught in depth I am also looking forward to your post about the physiological connection between mothers and their babies that you mentioned on one of your SIDS posts. Love your blog, thanks so much!

  33. amy says:

    Thank you for this posting. My third child remains unvaccinated and I appreciate all of the information regarding tetanus, as it is the one vaccine that many people insist is the most worthwhile. While living abroad in the Netherlands, I deeply cut my finger with a kitchen staff mixer and needed to ride my bike to the hospital to get it stitched. Vaccines weren’t even on my mind, but after it was stitched, the doctor strongly urged me to get the booster. I agreed as I was in terrible pain and not thinking clearly and then quickly realized that I had just been given a dose of thimerosal, etc. The next day, I was exhausted and slept for most of the day and my arm was in pain and swollen. The effects lasted for a couple of weeks and the site of injection had a small bump for months. In the NL, I was not given any information of possible side effects beforehand and for some reason I assumed this progressive country had banned thimerosal for all, not just in children’s vaccines. It was a lesson that we must always stay conscious and to always say “no” first and then research before making these sorts of decisions.

  34. Doris says:

    Thank you for your blog. Great information! I didn’t immunize any of my 14 children and it’s a good thing I chose that. There is a cousin of mine whose normal healthy daughter (after immunization) became nothing more than a vegitable on a bed, but it took her 20 years to die. There was another woman I met whose baby died within hours after being vacinated. It is my firm belief that any child who has allergies is at serious risk if they get a vacine and many develope allergies as a result of vacines. I wonder why there are not more real studies done.

  35. Christina says:

    If I already started vaccinating my children (ages 4 and 8 months) should I just stop vaccinating them because of the dangers or continue vaccinating them since I already started from the beginnings? Not sure what to do here since I just started reading your blog and switching to more natural remedies to illnesses. Thanks!!

    • Ursula says:

      Christina, when I started researching vaccines a little over 20 years ago, my four oldest children were 11, 10, 8 and 6 years old, and the youngest just had her first round of vaccines at the age of four months (I am in Canada, they don’t start vaccinating newborns already). NONE of my children (or my 16 grandchildren) has had a single vaccine since.
      It is perfectly safe to just stop, and there is no valid reason whatsoever to keep going once you realize that you’re doing harm rather than good when allowing the kids to get more vaccines.
      You didn’t know any better when vaccinating until now, so you couldn’t be blamed if some awful vaccine damage happened. But once you know better, and allow more vaccines and something happens, you’d never forgive yourself, because you would know you should have stopped.

  36. Heather K. says:

    Hi Heather. I’m a Heather as well and a pediatrician. I have a beautiful healthy 2mo old son. My clear goal is to keep him that way. I am on the fence about vaccinations for many reasons. In medical school it became quickly clear that we have no more than a superficial understanding of the immune system. It is another frontier that is daily being studied and discoveries are frequently made. If one wants evidence of this look at our treatment of autoimmune diseases. Our best weapons are still dinosaur drugs like prednisone. The newer immune modulator medicines work yet can have very dangerous side effects. I am an empiric scientist/researcher and sadly realize that much of today’s practice of Western Medicine looks more like religion than good sound scientific rational. I am facing something unique in my choice regarding vaccinations. There is an intense amount of peer pressure that surrounds me as an allopathic physician. So much that if I were to bring my child to the hospital with a vaccination “preventable” disease there would be quite serious fallout. I’ve even worried that the ABP or Medical Board could retaliate against me if I don’t vaccinate or encourage someone else to even question the concept. I appreciate your research and encourage you to continue. Something very helpful when trying to find the truth is attempting to prove the opposite of what you already believe. For example, my instincts tell me that vaccinations seem dangerous, so now I will work to prove to myself that they are safe. In fellowship, I learned how to tear apart bad studies….If I cannot find, well-designed studies that prove the opposite of what I believe, then no vaccines.

    • DW says:

      @Heather (mommypotamus): Thank you so much for reinforcing what I believed to be the best approach to this particular vaccine/disease, and for clearing up the part that an anti-toxin is available. I NEVER knew this, and I’ve been researching vaccines since I got my first PC, due to the horrid reactions I and my boys had.
      @Heather K: I applaud you! As a physician, you’re showing that your child is more important to you than the pressure placed on you by your fellow physicians, and that must be a very hard stance to take. And, even though I see you’ve already made your decision not to vax at this time, I want share my horror stories with you to help you stick with that decision. I’ll condense it as much as possible :) My oldest son, now 26, had horrible convulsions and brain-melting fevers as high as 107!! with each vaccine. His pedi at the time took one vaccine after another off of the schedule, but he continued to have horrible reactions. He also developed such severe asthma after his first series of vax, he was put on an adult medication by 4 months! He was angry all of the time and actually violent, which I also attribute to the vax. By the time he was 12, we were down to just the Tetanus, and I forced them to do the single-dose, supposedly Thimerasol-free version. He was still in bed with a migraine, body aches and fever for three days. I was such a stupid mom! For my second son, 5 1/2 years younger, I waited to vax until he was 2. His reaction was even worse, as after about 45 minutes, he went white, then stiff as a board and bent backward like a banana, keening for TWELVE HOURS. He lost his language, developed other classical Autism characteristics, including going from the happiest, most loving boy into one that was withdrawn and fearful. As this is already so long, I won’t go into my own reactions, but suffice it to say that for some people, you can destroy the immune system and damage the brain permanently with vaccines. For others, the damage may not be so severe or noticeable, but why take that chance?

    • Lindsey says:

      Dr. Heather K., I am curious to know what has perspired since your post.

      • Heather K. says:

        He will be 2 yr in a month and I still haven’t vaccinated him. Still researching. Just read Dissolving Illusions. Great read on the subject.

        • Alicia says:

          I just read Dissoving Illusions as well. It is an amazing book! I am a non-practicing RN and have yet to vaccinate my 2 yr old. Heather K., can you tell me what you think about homeoprophylaxis as a vaccine alternative? I haven’t tried it yet. Debating the validity. Thanks!

  37. MichelleV says:

    Thanks for this article! Neither of my kids has ever been vaxed, and this is one of the ones that my hubby occasionally worries about. :) Love your blog!!!!

  38. Ursula says:

    Thanks for this great article. I knew already that the tetanus vaccine (like ALL others) is dangerous and useless. But you’ve given me more information to make my case when people say, “But surely you need the tetanus vaccine, if nothing else?”

  39. Tammy says:

    Hello, I went to the park today with my baby and left her shoes at home. So I went barefoot in solidarity with her. Anyways I stepped on some thorns. Luckily she did not as they were very large. Only one prick on my foot of the four or five I pulled out still hurts. I didn’t bleed to my knowledge and now I wonder if I am in danger. I just now tOnight squeezed at it and some clear drops of liquid came out but not much. I then soaked for a while in peroxide. What should I do in my case where I didn’t think to bleed the wound before it may have healed up? My daughter is unvaxed and I haven’t had a tetanus shot since I was a kid. Also I am uninsured so I don’t want to go to a care now and be charged only to deny a vaccine.thanks for any help or advice

    • Heather says:

      Hi Tammy, I am not a doctor and am not qualified to give medical advice regarding specific situations. In general, though, I can tell you what my care provider told me when I posed this question to him. He said to watch for early signs of tetanus and to seek medical attention immediately if they appear.

      • Michael says:

        This, one thousand times this.

        You are not a doctor, you are not a medical professional. The amount of work that goes into becoming one is staggering, more then these simple browser warrior searches, years!

        Each medical profession has to undergo stringent testing to become intimately familiar with the human body as well as various affects upon it, including vaccines. This is not only just reading a script by rote until they can spout the fact such as may have been in high school and lower educations, they are told to read sources, compare sources, make arguments for or against them, site references, and have them reviewed by peers. They are encouraged to buck trends and look for the incontrovertible truth. My point being Medical Doctors have already done what you’ve done, they’ve argued your cases, from as early as medical school even into practice. They constantly update their knowledge, constantly seek new and better ways to treat illness, even your humble GP does this (hence constraints on their time. yes, I’m looking at you impatient people always annoyed that a doctor never seems to have time to see them)

        I won’t pretend ignorance and say there aren’t types who are unethical, but they are an extreme, i must stress this, extreme minority. Medical Doctors make the choice to give up their entire lives to this profession. They make a choice to sacrifice for the greater good, and the fact is they cannot become Doctors without doing thus.

        So have a little faith in your medical professional, they do not tout big pharma or google fu rather then actually diagnosing as you might like to believe, and they certainly do not believe in vaccination because they get paid to.

        Think on that next time you decide to start giving medical advice. Doctors know what they are doing, if you want to become a Doctor, by all means, we need more Doctors, and being as caring as yourself would only be an asset. But do NOT pretend that a few hours of research (even a few hours a day of years) can compare to the amount of work your doctor has put into becoming a medical professional, so maybe treat their word with a little more weight? Especially if it concerns a life.

        Doctors aren’t evil.

        • Michael says:

          And yes, advice on anything medical, from how to treat a wound to whether or not to get vaccinated is medical advice and should be left to medical professionals.

        • Melissa says:

          I’ve never been to medical school but I had four and a half years of nursing school in the U.S., and no we were NOT encouraged to buck trends. The entire time I was in school politically correct views were pushed and all alternate views were outright made fun of. It was one of the reasons I finally got fed up and quit. Also, having worked in the medical field myself, I can say that most doctors do NOT keep up on the latest research, many ARE bribed by drug companies to push certain drugs/viewpoints, surgeons are expected to do a certain amount of surgeries and will push surgery to keep their jobs even at times when it is not necessary, doctors have to push vaccines or else they will be vilified/loose their jobs, many many many drugs are passed out that are unsafe/unnecessary and/or have serious side effects – but none of this is told to the patient. Doctors are not evil, there are many many good people who just want to help. But the western medical establishment is. The drug companies have all the money and control what is taught in the colleges. I have no source to cite for this except my own experience and I’m sure there are many who can back me up.

    • S Loire says:

      Wrap it in castor oil…best cure and pulls out any chance of any kind of infection.

      • Andrea L says:

        “Wrap it in castor oil…best cure and pulls out any chance of any kind of infection.”

        Oh my goodness, what on earth is this dangerous rubbish? If topical castor oil was a cure for infection, we would have no skin infections in the world.

        • Beth says:

          and, unfortunately, in the case of tetanus, the bacteria is an anaerobic one, meaning wrapping it in castor oil (and thus cutting off oxygen sources) will only fuel it. It likes to grow where there is no oxygen, so really the better choice would be to leave the wound open.

  40. Mark says:

    Heather, thanks for such a well-written article.

  41. Sunshine says:

    I am having trouble with the margin box that allows you to email, Like on FB etc. IT is stuck half way down the page and won’t move so matter what I do. I wanted to email this to myself. The article is great!

    • Maryjane says:

      Make the print on your page smaller — hold down the CTRL key and then hit the minus (‘-’) key on a PC, or “command-minus” on a Mac. You may have to do this multiple times, until the whole margin box appears.
      However, there is no option in the box for emailing; it only provides options for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Stumble Upon, or Pinterest.

  42. A year ago, a friend’s son stepped on a nail and she didn’t know how deep the wound was, but she had never had her sons vaccinated and she wasn’t about to start now, so she did all the right things. She let it bleed out, irrigated it, soaked it a few times a day in Epsom salt and grapefruit seed extract, and separately, hydrogen peroxide. She gave him lots of vitamin C. She talked to a naturopath, who told her she was doing the right things. She rubbed it vigorously and tried to get it to bleed some more even later, but not much came out, but she was glad that at least it wasn’t oozing pus, and he had no fever or red streaks or hotness. She gave him some Ibuprofen for pain and swelling. She gave him ledum, hypericum, and belladonna (homeopathic remedies). She took him to a doctor and got an antibiotic. She considered having him get a tetanus immune globulin (TiG), but did not, and he is fine.

    A couple of weeks ago, one of my sons (an adult) stepped on a rusty screw, but the wound was not deep at all. He didn’t want a tetanus vaccine, thank goodness, and he did much the same things that my friend had her son do and he’s also fine. He felt a little silly doing all the things, but I told him it was good practice for a future time when he might have a worse wound.

    My opinion is to immediately clean it thoroughly with the above mentioned items and use homeopathic remedies. It would be a good idea to buy books on homeopathy and read up on it beforehand and have the phone number handy so you can contact a homeopathic practitioner if you need advice. Also, have the phone number handy of a naturopathic physician.

    • Andrea L says:

      Oh my goodness, if an unvaccinated person didn’t get tetanus from a wound, all that means is that there was not (an infectious dose of) tetanus spores present. The thought of trying to prevent tetanus with unproven remedies blows my mind.

  43. “It is another frontier that is daily being studied and discoveries are frequently made. If one wants evidence of this look at our treatment of autoimmune diseases. Our best weapons are still dinosaur drugs like prednisone. The newer immune modulator medicines work yet can have very dangerous side effects.

    I am an empiric scientist/researcher and sadly realize that much of today’s practice of Western Medicine looks more like religion than good sound scientific rational. I am facing something unique in my choice regarding vaccinations. There is an intense amount of peer pressure that surrounds me as an allopathic physician. So much that if I were to bring my child to the hospital with a vaccination “preventable” disease there would be quite serious fallout.

    I’ve even worried that the ABP or Medical Board could retaliate against me if I don’t vaccinate or encourage someone else to even question the concept. I appreciate your research and encourage you to continue. Something very helpful when trying to find the truth is attempting to prove the opposite of what you already believe. For example, my instincts tell me that vaccinations seem dangerous, so now I will work to prove to myself that they are safe. In fellowship, I learned how to tear apart bad studies….If I cannot find, well-designed studies that prove the opposite of what I believe, then no vaccines.” ~ Heather K

  44. Wow…what a powerful comment! I’d love to have her as my children’s pediatrician. Every year for school physicals I am bullied, condescended to b/c of my choice of raising healthy children outside of the Western med “norm”. If it wasn’t for the required physicals I wouldn’t be in their office. I wish Dr Heather all the best in her research and hope she keeps us updated in what she finds. And thank you to you, Heather, for all your research and time put into sharing it with us. My children are older, 17, 15, 12, and at times wish I had some of this information earlier on.

  45. Tina Warren via FB says:

    She would look at the @holistic pediatric alliance (argh…my phone won’t tag groups…)

  46. Shannon Brown via FB says:

    where is she located? :) near me by any chance?? :)

  47. Christina Smith via FB says:

    I just took my almost 6 month old son for his first “well visit” yesterday and after I told the pediatrician that we don’t vaccinate she went on to tell me a story about how an infant died recently of Pertusis and that there is an outbreak going on right now. Pffff! Good thing I’m IMMUNE to scare tactics! But, what of those who aren’t? Ugh. Hooray for you both Heathers :)!!!

  48. Mégan Miles Alba via FB says:

    WOW. If only all doctors were at least open to research on both sides. Admirable!

  49. I recently read this theory regarding on how autoimmune issues are worsened by vaccines because they boost the immune system. I wish more doctors were willing to discuss this sort of thing! http://drclark.typepad.com/dr_david_clark/2011/06/mitochondrial-antibodies-in-autoimmune-autism.html

  50. Peggy Schmidt Makurat via FB says:

    it’s true. We have even less on hour our food supply affects us.

  51. Alison Westermann via FB says:

    commendable outlook. i hope she chooses to stand up and not vaccinate her child.

  52. That was a very interesting article, Maria Bloomfield! Thank you!

  53. Very interesting article and as well as comments. Thank you.

  54. Autumn says:

    thank you!

  55. amelia says:

    I would like to agree with proof! we had a herd of perfectly healthy calves. as we were planning on selling them we decided it would be cost effective to vaccinate them. I also had a herd of goats. These animals were all perfectly healthy. I vaccinated with a NEW from the vet bottle of CDT. Within 24 hours the younger goats were dead. within 1 week all my 7 perfectly healthy does were dead and the same with all but 2 of the calves. I called in the vaccine number to an 800 number the vet gave me for problems with vaccines… i was told noone else had a complaint about that run of vaccine yet all my animals died from tetenus after administering vaccine! Thank GOD this wasnt my children!!!

  56. Peter says:

    I’ve recently been told that I needed a tetanus shot cuz I am going to be around a newborn baby soon. When did this become fashionable to make everyone who routinely comes in contact with a newborn a requirement? Is there any scientific basis for this claim and what are the risks for a newborn. I’ve also heard this vaccination was linked to whooping cough somehow.

    • Heather says:

      Hi Peter! Tetanus is not contagious so I have no idea why someone would recommend it as a prerequisite to being around a newborn (assuming the proposed theory of cocooning worked, which I don’t believe it does)

      • Sarah says:

        The shot they want him to get is the Tdap. Tetanus, diphtheria, and *pertussis*. Whooping cough. Which *is* contagious, and newborns generally catch it from adults, who may not even realize that what they have is pertussis b/c the symptoms can be milder in an adult. The only way to get a pertussis vaccine is bundled with tetanus & diphtheria, either the Tdap (adolescents & adults) or the DTaP (for kids). There also is a Td vaccine — tetanus & diphtheria — w/ no pertussis component. That’s the tetanus booster adults used to get every 10 years, until the Tdap was released in I believe 2005. The Tdap is recommended for all adults who are due for a tetanus booster, and for all adults who will be around newborns.

  57. deb says:

    Loved this article! Can you tell me, what about the polio vaccine though? I have a 8 meh old unvaccinated baby & my husband has been supportive of this but now is starting to make noises about the polio vaccine…do you have any info I can share with him?

  58. Naphtali says:

    Loved this article! Thank you so much. :-)

    There is a thing on your site that gives the option to like, tweet, pin, etc. Is that a widget? I don’t know. lol. Anyways, It’s far enough to the right that it covers the text from your blog posts so there is only a small part of the screen where I can read. Is there a way for me to take it off? It’s so frustrating! If it was just farther to the left it would be fine.

  59. [...] A Dose of Reality: Tetanus Vaccines Fail To Protect « The … [...]

  60. Cynthia says:

    Just a note about my somewhat recent experience with an adult tetanus vaccine. I deeply cut myself with a knife and it had been 25 years since my last tetanus. Even though I am really not a vaccine fan, I let the doctor go ahead and give me a tetanus shot. Within two weeks I had joint pain on my left side (side of the vaccine) in my hands, knees and elbows and a host of other inflammation-type issues. I still have muscle ache at the site of the shot – over one year later! I really, really am not a vaccine fan now and am still working to dump these toxins out of my system. Could be a coincidence on the inflammation but I think not and this was backed up by my nutritionist. Thanks for all of this info. Forwarding it on to my older kiddos…..

  61. [...] issue of vaccinations is always a hot topic.  I hadn’t really considered much about the tetanus vaccine before I read this [...]

  62. [...] more digging on Sunday I found more blog posts by multiple authors.  One on why you should not immunize against tetanus and how, by exposure to dirt, you can create natural immunity**.  Another on why herd immunity [...]

  63. [...] I suspect this is true of many diseases. For a great summary of this issue, read this article on why Tetanus vaccines fail to protect. Along with vaccines, antibiotics, hand sanitizers, and anti-bacterial soaps, shoes are just one [...]

  64. Sueann says:

    My 16 month old son just stepped on a board & two nails punctured him. I don’t know what to do. :( I immediately cleaned it with hydrogen peroxide and squeezed and sucked blood out. I don’t know if I should go get the single vaccine or not worry about it because I cleaned it well?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Sueann! I am so sorry that happened! I am not a doctor and am not qualified to give medical advice, but if it were me I’d thoroughly research the difference between the tetanus vaccine and the Tetanus Immunoglobulin (TiG) shot. The TiG is an anti-toxin serum, not a vaccine.

      • Squirrel says:

        That’s right, you’re not a doctor and you’re not qualified to give medical advice. So tell me again why you are giving people medical advice about vaccines? People are stating that they are choosing to neglect their children’s vaccinations on your say-so. Have you got indemnity insurance?

  65. [...] K.’s comment on this post about why tetanus vaccines fail to protect made this one of my all-time favorite posts. I love that social media has created a space where we [...]

  66. Amy says:

    My grandfather who was born in 1917, punctured his hand with a pitch fork while working on his family farm…it went clear through his hand. My great grandmother made him soak his hand in vinegar and salt water until his hand “shriveled and turned white”. Then I think he kept it wrapped with soaked cloth. He said that it healed and never got infected. My grandpa grew up on a farm eating real food and drinking green tea. He had all of his teeth when he died at 93.

  67. Thank you so much for this article! Do you have any others on vaccinations? We have decided not to vaccinate our daughter after doing some research and her major reaction to her first set. Again, thank you for sharing what you’ve learned!

  68. Todd dermer says:

    What are the side effects of the tetanus immuno globulin? I nicked my thumb on a piece of glass that was in the carpet. It bled for a bit. I washed it with soap and water and put neosporin on. Now almost 4 days later people asked did you get a tetanus shot. I had all my shots as a child and had one for tetanus around 20 years ago. The thumb isn’t infected. Just a small dot like if you poked your finger using a home gluceter.

    Thanks

  69. [...] A Dose Of Reality: Tetanus Vaccines Fail To Protect [...]

  70. Keesha Doss says:

    Do you have possibly an updated link for the CDC link at the top of this page?

  71. Dan Kegel says:

    I found the right link, it’s http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/tetanus.html
    Please correct the article when you get a chance!

    Wikipedia has a similar page with clearer wording.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetanospasmin says

    “Due to its extreme potency, even a lethal dose of tetanospasmin may be insufficient to provoke an immune response. Naturally-acquired tetanus infections thus do not usually provide immunity to subsequent infections. Immunization (which is impermanent and must be repeated periodically) instead utilizes the less deadly toxoid derived from the toxin”

    So the CDC isn’t crazy – it *detoxifies* the toxin before giving it to you as a vaccine. This lets your immune system notice it before you die. Handy, that.

  72. Demetria says:

    When I was 18 I started working for a school district and had to get a tetanus shot. A few years later I started back working for them. I was told to get a tetanus shot again. I went all over the city trying to find a place that had any in stock. No one had them except for school age kids and emergencies. I was able to start work without it since I couldn’t find one. As I was reading your article I got to thinking about WHY children and workers need this vaccine. It makes no sense to me since we can just get the anti-toxin if needed.
    Last December I gave birth to my daughter. My husband and I decided to not immunize her because of all the nasty things added to the shots. He and his siblings were never vaccinated and they did just fine. I grew up at a time of very few shots and have done just fine. I am glad we are able to learn about these from people like you who do much of the research so we can make an educated decision. THANK YOU!

    • Squirrel says:

      Demetria, I’m sorry that you have read some misinformation and come to believe that vaccines contain “nasty things”. Sure it’s confusing, most people are not qualified in chemistry. If you have concerns ask your doctor to explain the ingredients to you. I’m surprised you had trouble getting a tetanus booster. Where I live, it’s standard procedure when filling out permission notes for my children’s school and sporting activities, to note the date of their last tetanus booster, in case of accidents. If you work in a job where you may come into contact with a contaminated environment, it’s standard to have up-to-date tetanus boosters. The current vaccine is quite safe. https://c15119308.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/Toxins_in_vaccines_Conversation_2012.pdf

    • Beth says:

      The reason why we need vaccines along with the antitoxin is because the tetanus toxin infiltrates your CNS (that’s your spine and brain). Once the toxin has entered your spine, the antitoxin cannot reach it. All antitoxin does is make sure any toxin that hasn’t entered your peripheral nervous system yet doesn’t enter it. All it can do is make sure things don’t get worse, but it is not a cure. the vaccine, on the other hand, will enable your body to defend itself, by attacking the bacteria that create the toxin.

      And in response to the individuals saying to bleed the wound and rinse it with hydrogen peroxide, this is a great solution to get rid of vegetative bacteria (meaning the bacteria that create the toxin). However, tetanus is a bacteria that creates something called endospores, which are super protected pockets of bacterial genes. They can withstand 121 degrees celsius for 10-15 minutes, and most harsh chemicals like phenols and oxygen, even though vegetative cells cannot. This means that if endospores get into your wound, you can rinse and soak in as much salt and vinegar as you like, but it won’t destroy them. As well, once endospores get into your blood or lymph, they turn into bacterial cells that create toxin. This is why the incubation period can be up to 3 weeks long.

  73. Heather says:

    Thank you for this, although I am kicking myself since I just got one the other day.. first in 15 years. I’m head to Brazil next month so I was sort of peer pressured into typhoid, Hep A, and the tetanus vaccines… but I held my ground on Yellow Fever (its $130 plus the likelihood of getting it is equivalent to being hit by lightning PLUS its only transferred via mosquitos and I have my catnip oil :) ). I would really, really appreciate knowing your opinion: are there any vaccines or immunizations worth getting?? Are there any specific circumstances that you would get them (lets say international travel and typhoid was recommended)

    • Heather says:

      I am not a medical professional and cannot say what anyone else should do, but after much research and discussion with my healthcare provider I chose to decline all vaccines for my family. :)

      • Squirrel says:

        Heather, I would like you to explain, in specific but succinct detail, exactly how you came to the conclusion to reject each vaccine. What research/statements could have led you to come to this decision which goes against all the available scientific evidence, around the world, by independent researchers, scientists, epidemiologists, virologists, and against the advice of paediatricians and general practitioners. Also the information from world health organisations and charities such as WHO, Unicef, Rotary etc. have abundant statistical evidence of the success of vaccination programs. Or don’t you care about those children in poorer countries. You seem to be living in a comfortable and privileged but ignorant bubble of denial about the real world out there. People will find your blog and trust you and you are misleading them. Every time someone chooses to neglect protection for their child you are putting the entire community at risk. We are already seeing the results in the lowering of vaccination coverage due to baseless scaremongering such as yours. I can promise you that any of the anti-vaccination rhetoric that you are going to quote me is very easily refuted. I’ve been around longer than you and I’ve heard it all before. So do tell me. And don’t bother with anything that is not cited directly from a reputable peer-reviewed scientific journal.

        • Max says:

          Squirrel, go away. Your troll comments are in no way useful or respectful. You’re just spouting your own opinions and demanding research from others! Clearly, you’re not wanted here. You’re not proving or debunking anything. The article was great and the author should never even acknowledge anything you say!

    • S Loire says:

      I am going to Nigeria this fall and I will not be getting any vaccines. I am going to go through the rounds of Homeopathic ones since most African countries accept those. Honestly, with the state of dishonesty in the pharma/medical community in this age, I would not get any vaccine for any reason. The science just does not support it. Not really. Our immune systems do not function this way.

      • Squirrel says:

        No you’re wrong, the science DOES support the safety and efficacy of vaccines. It is extremely foolhardy to travel to a country like Nigeria unvaccinated. You are also running the risk of bringing back a disease into your own country, not to mention infecting a planeload of your fellow travellers. Homeopathy gives no protection whatsoever, it is simply bottled water. This is a very irresponsible blog. There is already enough misinformation about this topic being spread amongst the ignorant. If you don’t have the appropriate qualifications and expertise then ask someone who does. Not a bunch of conspiracy theorists and people who are not even basically literate in their own language.

      • Squirrel says:

        Here is a fact sheet on Yellow Fever. Note that it exists in Brazil, and kills up to 50% of the people who become infected. There is currently no cure. The vaccine is very safe and effective. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs100/en/index.html

    • Ethan says:

      I came to Brazil a couple of months back and had no vaccinations. No idea why your more likely to get Tetanus in Brazil. Where in Brazil are you going? Love to hear if your catnip oil works as it appears that mosquito’s love a good english breakfast, or supper come to that, I’m getting about 3 or 4 bites a day. I’m of the opinion that no vaccines are worth it.

  74. Stefanie says:

    I think medical decisions are highly individual choices, but this article is at best irresponsible and at worst deadly. Had you actually read the article you referenced you would notice that the points you took from them were in contradiction to the study data itself, taken out of context, or just not understood. A chiropractor is neither an immunologist or someone to take medical advice from outside his scope of practice. You do not pour hydrogen peroxide on puncture wounds and it is no longer even recommended for abrasions. I advocate for people researching choices and making their own decisions, but this article is not research. I guess I might feel sorry for the people that give credence to this article, but if they had clicked on the handy links to your research then they would have been able to see that it was a bunch of crap as they read along.

    • Andrea Leong says:

      Thank you, Stephanie.

      Yes, the chance of contracting tetanus is low. But the disease is catastrophic.

      Where to start with how much the references cited in this post are taken out of context? I’ll address a few:

      1) “according to this statement [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1565228] from the University of Chicago’s Neurology department, individuals with extremely high levels of titers (antibodies) can still contract severe – even fatal – tetanus.”

      The abstract reveals that THREE patients presented with tetanus despite antibody levels that are usually protective, and that, “This is the first report of grade III tetanus with protective levels of antibody in the United States.” This was a case report, i.e. an unusual case that warrants publication.

      2) “According to a letter published by the The New England Journal of Medicine [http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM198401193100313], the tetanus booster shot can actually cause T cells (vital to immune system function) to drop [...]”

      The point of the letter cited is that the OKT4/OKT8 ratio is inappropriate as a de facto test for whether a blood donor is healthy, because yes, the tetanus vaccination reduced the OKT4/OKT8 ratio, as is also seen in HIV/AIDS patients. However, the greatest reduction was noted 3 to 14 days post-vaccination (i.e. it got better pretty quickly) and the reduction was not as great as in HIV/AIDS patients. Post-vaccination, the mean ratio decreased from 2.1 to 1.3; AIDS patients can have a mean ratio as low as 0.68 (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF01745513, figure 2). Also, only the ratio is noted here; not total cell numbers.

      3) That’s all I can be bothered with. If this is the level of analysis that’s gone into this post, I’m not going to spend another 20 minutes debunking the next reference.

    • Andrea Leong says:

      *Stefanie
      That was rude of me to misspell your name! :)

  75. Lexi says:

    Thank you for the informative article. I don’t have kids yet, but I do have dogs and all research points to very limited vaccination and titers, which we will continue doing. I’m just delving into the world of human vaccinations, so I appreciate the info. however, on question mark did arise from reading this. You recommend cleaning the wound with hydrogen peroxide. I am an EMT and we’ve been told for years now this is an archaic practice and actually kills the “growth cells” that would expedite healing. I always encourage good ol’ soap and water. What say you on the hydrogen peroxide dilemma?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Lexi, it’s hard to say for sure. My understanding is that part of the reason hydrogen peroxide is used is that the bubbling action works mechanically to remove clostridium tetani in much the same way that the lather of a soap would if we could get it into the wound and massage the bubbles around. According to this article, “Hydrogen peroxide and povidone-iodine (Betadine) products may be used to clean the wound initially, but may inhibit wound healing if used long-term.” (http://www.medicinenet.com/cuts_scrapes_and_puncture_wounds/article.htm)

      The doctor is referring to cuts in general rather than cases where tetanus might be suspected, but I think the overall guideline might apply. Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m just a mom writing about what I would do if I encountered a situation in which tetanus might be a concern :)

      • Squirrel says:

        Heather says “It’s hard to say for sure”. Of course it is, because Heather has no qualification or any business at all trying to give people advice on medicine. Listen to Heather struggling to understand chemicals and wound cleaning. It’s no more valid for her to give you advice than it is for me to tell you how to take apart your car and put it back together again. I know nothing of motor mechanics so I consult someone who is a professional motor mechanic. Ask your doctor, Lexi.

        • Ethan says:

          Hmm I’m not a mechanic but I’ve learnt a few things over the years and sometimes I manage to fix my own car. Once in a while I even teach people some of the things I’ve learnt and guess what they have fixed their car. Who knows maybe if they had taken it to the proffesional mechanic they might have been ripped off, one or two mechanics have been known to do that.
          Seems I don’t put Doctors on quite the high pedasall that you do. Don’t get me wrong I go to a Doctor from time to time ( maybe 8 years ago was the last time ) and I listen to them, but then I make up my own mind cos the way I figure it, I’m responsible for my own body and in fact the 4th biggest killer in the US is properly prescribed medication because actually Doctors don’t have all the answers.

          • Abbey Kingston-Burke says:

            Well put Ethan. I am amazed that Squirrel is so frequent here on this blog. Atleast everyone else on here is happy to not be anonymous like he/she is. We are at the end of the day responsible for our own bodies and as a nurse I appreciate my patients asking questions and being interested in their health. I would also suggest that if a Health Professional cannot answer your questions then I would be dubious as to whether you should accept the treatment as this is not informed consent.

  76. S Loire king says:

    No vaccine is safe or effective. Anyone who claims that there are have not studied much and is simply spouting the party line. This is to the person making grandiose claims about the yellow fever vaccine.

    • Squirrel says:

      S Loire King: All vaccines on the current schedules have proven to be safe and effective. I personally don’t care for politics and I have zero affiliations with any pharmaceutical company or any government department or whatever it is that fuels your conspiracy theories. Vaccines aren’t effective? Smallpox was eradicated in 1980 due to vaccines. For future safety, samples are still kept in labs. And even better – scientists monitor the effectiveness of the vaccines in storage, and are still developing a new generation of improved vaccines because of the threat of bioterrorism. Here is a Cochrane review of those studies, which includes a history of Smallpox and just about everything you ever wanted to know about Smallpox. Note that the vaccines are effective even when diluted. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004913.pub2/full

      • Ethan says:

        Squirrel, you say that all current vaccines are safe. Interesting, do you accept as the courts have that some vaccines in the past not been safe?

    • Squirrel says:

      S Loire King: Those were not grandiose claims about the yellow fever vaccine. That was a fact sheet. I’m curious why you would go to a dangerous country like Nigeria unless you really had to. Are you a Mormon missionary?

      • Abbey Kingston-Burke says:

        Squirrel, you are incredibly rude person. You should keep to facts instead of insulting people for choosing to go to countries that you would not choose.

  77. Frank says:

    Well written article, but it does not explain why 70% of tetanus hospitalizations have never had a tetanus vaccine, and 25% have lapsed more than 10 years. Thats 95% of the cases do not have active vaccine antibody. Oh, and the vaccine is considered 95% effective – seems to make sense?

  78. RebeccaL says:

    Wow! I chose for my child to be vaccine free but i always thought an incident with a rusty object would be my exception. Thank you for being so thorough and informative.
    I am passing this on!

  79. SL says:

    Please keep going on being vaccine free To Rebecca

  80. Captain Dg says:

    The writer accepts studies she favors while dismissing studies that show the safety of vaccines as somehow flawed. [Author's combox comment- "Vaccine safety trials are completely inadequate in their current form".] As well, the comments are full of anecdotal evidence. It is nice that this or that person cleaned a wound and was fine. It really says nothing about tetanus (though it does speak nicely for the effectiveness of modern hygiene in general). Tetanus is well understood even if our understanding of the immune system is incomplete. But to refrain for a medical benefit with so very low a risk, in part reasoning that this lack of total understanding is evidence against action would if extended to other medical treatments render modern medicine unarmed.

  81. Karen says:

    Funny how things happen. Just this morning I referenced this article in response to someone who posted the recent ABC News article “Parents’ fear of vaccinations nearly killed their son”. Then, while mowing my grass this afternoon, I cut my leg on an old rusty fence. Glad I refreshed my memory this morning on what to do in case something like this happened! Thanks again for posting!

  82. [...] A Dose of Reality: Tetanus Vaccines Fail To Protect | The Mommypotamus | organic SAHM sharing her fa… [...]

  83. Chelbie Marczewski says:

    Hi Heather,
    Thank you for all the research you’ve done in preparing this post and others on vaccines. I’m a doula and I’ve referenced your site a few times for families looking for more information. I have a question;
    I have an interview this weekend for a nanny job were I’d be caring for 2 children (beside my own) in my home 10 hour days 5 days a week. I’m assuming that this family vaccinates and therefore not sure if this is a safe choice for my kids who are unvaccinated. I’m also pregnant with baby #3 and I don’t know if being around vaccinated children is safe for me. It’s a little crazy making. I’m not sure if I should worry about this? I’m afraid to mention this to the family as they may not hire me if they don’t agree with our choice to not vaccinate. But of course my children’s health comes first. What would you do? Thank you for your input. :)

    • Andrea says:

      What danger would the vaccinated children pose to your unvaccinated ones? Are you somehow afraid of shedding — for the few vaccines for which this is a possibility* — but not of the wild pathogen?

      *http://luckylosing.com/2011/10/13/vaccine-shedding-time-up-for-another-vaccine-myth/

      • Chelbie Marczewski says:

        andrea,
        I’ve actually never heard of vaccine shedding, I will definitely read your article. I guess my fear is mostly with the “live” vaccines, chicken pox, polio. When a child is given a live vaccine does that make others around him susceptible to that live virus?

        • Andrea L says:

          Hi Chelbie,

          With the chicken pox (varicella) vaccine, some virus particles are shed in the stools; so, as always, good bathroom hygiene applies. The shed virus can be dangerous to immunocompromised people if they come into contact with the stools of someone who was vaccinated within the past 6 weeks. However, the vaccine virus is live but attenuated, i.e. weaker than the wild strain. If healthy children come into contact with other children’s fecal matter, the attenuated varicella virus is probably one of their lesser worries!
          http://studenthealth.ucsd.edu/varicella.shtml

          Rotavirus is in a similar boat to varicella: The immunocompromised need to avoid ingesting the poo of a recently-vaccinated child… seems like good advice in general!

          For polio, the live (oral, Sabin) vaccine is no longer used in the USA, the UK, Australia, or most countries where polio is no longer endemic. We canned it about 10 years ago, in favour of the killed (injected, Salk) vaccine because there was a tiny but real risk of contracting polio from the live vaccine. This page explains the difference between the two pretty well: http://www.chemheritage.org/discover/online-resources/chemistry-in-history/themes/pharmaceuticals/preventing-and-treating-infectious-diseases/salk-and-sabin.aspx

          As far as I can find, there have been no documented cases of transmission of measles or mumps after MMR vaccination. There has been one documented case of a breast-fed baby developing mild rubella symptoms after his mother was vaccinated postpartum (presumably, protective antibodies were transmitted at the same time as the virus).

          I hope some of this is informative :) There’s a lot to wade through.

  84. Roberta says:

    I received a tetanus booster a few years ago after breaking my arm, and have had tetanus 5 times in the 3 years since then (I’m a farmer). Each time there was a puncture wound followed in a few days or so by brief twitching off and on in the extremity muscles, which if I ignored this would progress to spasms in the gut and culminate in the very painful jaw spasms. I quickly learned how to identify what was happening, and used training that I had obtained among the Amish over the years to immediately stop the spasms. Colloidal silver will halt them in their tracks, and it helps to have chelated magnesium on hand as a secondary measure for the worst spasms (particularly when first learning to identify what is happening and taking longer to respond than in subsequent cases).

    After reading this article, I will now be trying oral oxygen experimentally, though the main point suggested was to use it topically. Unfortunately, I often don’t realize while I’m busy on the farm that small punctures require me to stop my work and clean the wound right then and there.

    Thank you for the excellent article!

    • Andrea L says:

      So you’re saying:
      (a) You’re continually self-diagnosing tetanus; and
      (b) Natural immunity isn’t effective.

  85. Dawn says:

    I was given the tetanus booster vaccine 9 days prior to conceiving my daughter. The was born with torticollis and cognitive impairment. The egg that was fertilized had the tetanus in it. We have tried some homeopathic tetanus remedies, since she has tested positive to tetanus through energy work, but it just doesn’t seem to go away. Do you have any suggestions? She is now 13 and cannot read, nor how to add or subtract single digit numbers.

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Dawn, how did you find out that the vaccine was responsible for your daughter’s symptoms? When you say the egg “had tetanus in it” you can only mean the fragments of the tetanus toxin that are present in the vaccine, right? Of the 31 micrograms* of tetanus toxoid in the vaccine, how much remains after 9 days, and does it particularly target reproductive cells? I’m genuinely curious as to how you researched this.

      *Approximately. This is my best calculation. It’s hard to find a clear conversion from “5 Lf units” (Lf = limit of flocculation”).

      • Dawn says:

        I do not have any concrete data that the tetanus contributed to my daughter’s situation. Intuitively, I feel like it did since she was born with tetanus symptoms – limited range of motion in her neck and neurological issues – and medical professionals have metaphysically tested her as having tetanus in her system. I do believe that the tetanus vaccine that I was given passed through the umbilical cord and onto her, and maybe it was only a limited number of fragments, but I believe the percentage of fragments would be much higher on a developing fetus due to it’s small size. I think that the medical community also has this concern, and that is why is it generally the procedure to warn people against getting pregnant immediately after the injection.

  86. Sandy says:

    A friend and I were having a discussion about tetanus not long ago and she sent me a link to your site. I think that you make some good points but I do want to comment on your suggestion to the request the TiG Tetanus immunoglobulin. While it’s a good idea to give TiG, TiG is usually given in addition to a tetanus shot if it is suspected that someone has a wound that could be infected with tetanus. This is because the TiG only gives temporary immunity of just 2 days. This is too little time to fight tetanus because it takes up to 2 weeks for tetanus to develop. However, the 2 days gives the body enough time to develop it’s own antibodies from the booster shot to fight the tetanus. The reason that it only last 2 days is because it is developed in human plasma. Each person antibodies are unique and when someone is injected with another person’s antibodies, the body sees that as foreign and eliminates it from the body. However, the TiG does give the body enough time to develop it’s own antibodies which are then active for many years afterward.

  87. […] to this article by my friend Heather of Mommypotamus, there are numerous studies that show that populations of […]

  88. Lucy says:

    I have stumbled into a minefield of misinformation. Best I get out and go read some legitimate science. There is an alarming lack of responsibility on the part of the author of this blog, who, I gather is not medically trained.

  89. Saoirse says:

    In my intensive research over the last few days to decide what to do about my unvaccinated toddler’s shallow cut, this is one of the best-reasoned pieces I have come across. A note on the info that there were 12 reported cases of tetanus in WWII: somewhere in all that research I came across an Army medic of the day who reported later that vaccinated soldiers did get tetanus and were told not to report it. I will look for the source and try to post it here. The polarization and lack of transparency on all sides of the vaccination issue is agonizing for parents.

  90. Keith says:

    Nice free article to read on neonatal deaths in India and talks about tetanus:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3669267/

    “Our study confirmed the results of previous studies that using two or more TT injections during pregnancy help reducing neonatal deaths substantially through reducing the likelihood of tetanus infection in newborns (Taha, Gray & Abdelwahab, 1993; Rahman et al., 1982; Gupta & Keyl, 1998; Yusuf et al., 1991; Blencowe et al., 2010; Arnold, Soewarso & Karyadi, 1986). It has been noted that neonatal tetanus is one of the major causes of neonatal deaths in developing countries (Taha, Gray & Abdelwahab, 1993; Rahman et al., 1982; Gupta & Keyl, 1998; Vandelaer et al., 2003)”.

  91. Cricket says:

    Tetanus toxoid does NOT inhibit our ability to produce antibodies. It is a neurotoxin, meaning it attacks nerves. Specifically, it targets muscle cells, preventing their ability to relax. For example, closing your hand requires the muscles in your hand to contract. Tetanus toxoid would prevent your hand from being able to open again. Tetanus can also affect your ENTIRE BODY, not just your jaw. The jaw is just one of the classical signs because the muscles clenching force the infected person to grimace. The constant muscle clenching can actually break bones, including your spine. Tetanus causes more than 1 MILLION DEATHS every year worldwide. Death rate is about 70% worldwide for those who become infected, usually by suffocation when their diaphragm and chest muscles clench, preventing breathing. In the U.S., it is lower (10-20%) of course due to early treatment (TIG, drugs to control muscle spasms) which may not be available in other countries. By the way, the patient is aware the entire time they are suffocating and breaking their bones. You can become infected with tetanus from MANY SOURCES, not just rusty nails. It can also take as little as 3 DAYS to start developing symptoms, much earlier than the the 2-3 weeks needed to develop antibodies if you have not been vaccinated. Basically, tetanus can kill you before your body can develop an immune response. If tetanus toxoid prevented antibody formation, there would be no chance for natural immunity to occur as this article claims. So this article would be false based on that alone, not counting any of the factual errors.

    • Andrea L says:

      CRICKET, you’ve missed things in your reading unless you were replying to another comment.

      1. ToxOID is the inactivated toxIN, which is why the tetanus vaccine contains toxoid.

      2. The author doesn’t claim that toxoid inhibits antibody production — rather, that the antibodies produced in response to the toxoid from the vaccine are not protective.

      3. The author says C. tetani is found in soil and dust, and the classic rusty nail scenario is rare.

      The gaping hole in the article is in the “Unvaccinated Populations With Proven Natural Immunity To Tetanus” section, which cites studies of populations with “protective levels of tetanus antitoxin [antibody]“. But in the previous section, the author claims antibody levels are a poor indicator of tetanus immunity. Direct contradiction.

      Also, CRICKET, you said tetanus kills 1,000,000 people each year. Please provide a source that supersedes this one, which estimates the tetanus death toll at 270,000 in 1990, dropping to 60,000 in 2010: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23245604. If you just made that up, then GTFO.

      • Heather says:

        Hi Andrea, thanks for your comments. While I agree that it does seem like a contradiction, I would like to clarify a few points from the post that may better explain my perspective.

        “While it is is possible that the body will create antibodies to the toxin, antibody response to a vaccine does not equal immunity or protection. (Source 1, Source 2). The presence of antibodies after a vaccination indicates exposure to a pathogen, but it alone does not confer immunity.

        Here’s what I mean: Say you send your first grader to school with the answers to her second period quiz in her back pocket. When test time arrives she has to go through the hassle of digging through her folders to find the answer sheet, read your chicken scratch handwriting (or maybe that’s just mine!), and write down the answers. She had to go through **some** effort to earn that A+, but having the right answers on that test does NOT mean she learned anything, or that she will be prepared to handle real-life events based on her “success” with the test.”

        It is my personal conclusion that the presence of antibodies indicates that the body has undergone a process which resulted in immunity. In other words, the presence of antibodies is a marker of the process, rather than an isolated end goal. Unlike what some experts believe happens with vaccination, the immune system has been fully engaged. One might consider the approach to be the difference between “teaching to the test” – aka preparing children with very specific answers that they can parrot on standardized tests – and imparting knowledge that children can adapt for use in a variety of settings. Just looking at the answers on the test, or in this case the presence of antibodies, does not necessarily give the full picture of what the student/body has learned.

  92. Joao Ferreira says:

    Amazing article, simple and well explained. One more to my long wall of documents and books about the vaccines. Thank you so much. I will follow you everyday ;)

  93. MJB says:

    Good day. Thank you for posting on this topic. I researched a few years ago about what I would do “if/when” the need for treating Tetanus arose with my kids. I found your article then and have shared it with some. So someone in one of my more holistically minded groups mentioned having to take her 3 1/2yo into the ER last night because there was a head wound and potting soil involved. They gave her the Dtap and TiG saying that neither would work alone and they had to be given together to combat the “tetanus” if it was present. She said it did not bleed very much despite the fact that the skin was hanging from her eyebrow and required 15 stitches. In your research, have you come across anything stating that they work in conjuncture with each other and that they won’t work on their own? I had read that Dtap won’t work after an injury, only before and so that TiG would be the better option after an injury. But they insisted that they needed to be given together. Any insight? Thank you

  94. Tamara says:

    I realized when my daughter cut her foot on glass in a lake that I didn’t have an action plan in place for that eventuality other than scrupulously cleaning the wound. We then went directly to the hospital to get her foot looked at and stitched up. We were offered the TIG and strongly advised to get one of the Tetanus combination vaccinations (we were told that they don’t make single dose tetanus shots anymore). What do they give adults? My daughter was given the TIG and I started giving her vit C every hour for a few days. I was told the TIG was only effective for 3 days. What is an effective dosage of vitC for a child? Are there other interventions that parents can take to strengthen their child’s defenses? I have read that high doses of VitC have effectively been used to treat tetanus infections. When my daughter complained of a strange pain on her chin I rushed her in to see the doctor but he ruled out tetanus saying that she would appear very sick. What does one look for? The web has many point form symptoms listed but can a child appear well and still be sick experiences a few non specific twinges? I am looking to put together a comprehension protocol to follow should this happen again.

    • It sounds to me like you are doing the right things. You are fortunate that what happened to a friend of mine did not happen to you. Her child got many vaccines all at once in the same leg that she had the cut on and the parents didn’t want the child to get any more than the DTaP. I’ll be interested in seeing what people say in response to your question about what to look for.

      • Tamara says:

        Thanks Susan. I realize now that I also had not prepared myself for the anxiety, fear and stress that accompanied this incident.

  95. Kirk says:

    Hi…my 10 yr old daughter got a bad deep cut from a jagged edge of the ladder in our pool just this past Tuesday. I took her to the hospital for stitches and they asked about the Tetanus. I told them she is not up to date and I need to think about her getting it now. Keep in mind my wife has been reading about immunizations for over 10 years now and our daughter is also immunized free…she also stated “No Tetanus” as I left with my daughter.

    Well, they did just what is stated…they scared the beejeezus out of me of not getting the shot and I gave in. I’m really concerned that I made the wrong decision after reading this and many other articles stating good references. I trust my wife in her decisions but thinking of the alternative (possible tetanus) just scared me to no end.

    What did bother me was the way the (docs, scrubs) reacted when I was hesitant……since they are in the health profession, they obviously know more than I do and who am I to question.

    Going back and forth…the pros and cons, the articles……I pray I made the right decision but very unsure. Thank you for this article though….at least now I’m more informed.

    • Sl king says:

      To kirk Detox your baby as fast and as hard as possible. Please. Next time, trust your wife. Am praying for no vax rewction. Docs can be bullies. I have learned that the phrase: NO & There will be no further discussion works well.

    • Tamara says:

      Don’t be too hard on yourself. The guilt and uncertainty you’ll feel in this situation are not to be underestimated and not something you can prepare yourself for. Every parent just wants to do the right thing. At least the doctors who tended to my daughter were very clear that the tetanus vaccine would not afford any protection for three weeks until her body started to produce antibodies and suggested the TIG in the interim. She received the TIG only. I was fortunate that this time around the doctors were not nasty to me but my husband and I have been treated like lepers in the past for not vaccinating.

  96. Tori says:

    My friend is permanently disabled due to a vaccine and has now been given 7 years to live. Watching her completely lose who she was after a simple shot and deteriorate was horrifying and heartbreaking. Now my daughter is in ICU with tetanus. I chose not to vaccinate. I still don’t believe a vaccine would have kept her safe. A friend of mine has her daughter fully vaccinated and she’s the only child in our large group of mom friends to get pertussis. I don’t know what to think anymore. I’m watching my daughter suffer in ICU and it’s been a week now. We’re being told she could be here for “weeks or months.”

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