3 Things Travelers Need To Know About Tetanus Boosters
Tetanus vaccines are a standard vaccine for kids, but they don't last forever. The tetanus vaccine you got as a kid won't protect you for your entire life, which is why doctors recommend getting a tetanus booster every ten years. This is especially important if you plan to travel internationally. Here are three things travelers need to know about tetanus boosters.
What is tetanus?
Tetanus is caused by a common bacteria, Clostridium tetani. This bacteria is found in soil, feces, and even in your colon. If you get cut or scratched with an object that is contaminated with the bacteria, you could get very sick. Injuries as small as a splinter or a bug bite can lead to tetanus.
The symptoms of tetanus set in about eight days after exposure. At first, sufferers lose the ability to relax their muscles and have constant muscle contractions. Later, the muscles of the jaw and face spasm, and when the bacteria reaches your lungs, you'll lose the ability to breathe.
Which travelers are at risk?
You can get tetanus anywhere in the world, but depending on where you're going and what you're doing, your trip may put you at a higher risk. If you are going to travel to an underdeveloped or hard-to-access region, it may be hard or even impossible for you to find a doctor to give you a tetanus booster, should you injure yourself. Getting treatment for tetanus can likewise be very difficult. This is why you should get your tetanus booster while you're still in the United States and have easy access to medical care.
Some activities can also make your trip more dangerous. For example, if you are traveling to do humanitarian work like helping clean up after a natural disaster, you may have a higher risk of scratching or cutting yourself with a contaminated object than someone who plans to spend their vacation relaxing beside a pool. Make sure to tell your doctor where you're going as well as what you plan to do on your trip so that they can evaluate your level of risk.
How is the vaccine given?
The tetanus booster is very simple. It only requires one intramuscular injection, and the immunity provided by the booster is immediate. This is good news for procrastinators since you can get the booster right before you go on your trip without any ill effects.
If you plan to travel, make sure to talk to your doctor about getting a tetanus booster shot before you go. Contact a physician like Friedrich Tomas J MD for more information.