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Tetanus shots are essential for storm cleanup

Cleaning up after wind damage or flooding from spring storms can increase a person’s risk of exposure to tetanus. Moving storm debris like trees, wood or carpeting can result in scrapes, cuts and puncture wounds. If dust, dirt, soil or flood water comes in contact with broken skin, tetanus spores and other contaminants can enter causing infection.

We surveyed 511 adults to see what they know about tetanus and tetanus vaccination.

How current are Americans on tetanus shots?

Less than half (44%) reported having a tetanus shot in the last 10 years as recommended by national guidelines; an additional 14% weren’t sure if they’d had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years. Adults 60 and older were more likely than those under age 60 to be up-to-date on tetanus shots (65% vs 41%), as were white respondents vs. Black respondents (51% vs 36%) and women vs. men (50% vs 33%). Only 45% said they knew how to find out if or when they had a tetanus shot.

Do Americans know where to get a tetanus shot?

Half (49%) reported knowing where to get a tetanus shot or booster. More people living in rural areas knew where to get a tetanus shot than those living in urban areas (70% vs 46%). Health officials should alert the public that they can get a tetanus vaccine or check their vaccination status at their doctor’s office or local pharmacy, health department, health center, or clinic.

How dangerous is tetanus infection?

On average, respondents rated tetanus a 6.6 on a 1-10 scale where 1=not at all dangerous and 10=life-threatening.  Untreated tetanus can be severe and life-threatening. But it is completely preventable by getting the tetanus vaccine. You can even get protection from the vaccine after getting a wound. If you sustain a puncture wound or other wound that breaks the skin, contact your doctor immediately to get a tetanus booster and prevent infection. 

How can you increase community awareness of tetanus prevention?

If you or someone you know is involved in storm cleanup, please share the resources below. Tetanus vaccination can help keep St. Louisans protected from potentially dangerous infections.

Survey information

This week’s report is based on responses from a panel of adult residents of Baltimore, MD (n = 167), St. Louis, MO (n = 147), Omaha, NE (n = 84), Colorado (n = 99) and Texas (n=10) surveyed May 11-13, 2024. Explore these data and more at iHeardSTL.

Download the graphics below to share about this topic.

Suggested Caption:

With storm season in full swing, make sure you’re up-to-date on your tetanus shots and boosters!

#iHeardSTL #StormCleanup #Tetanus

Suggested Caption:

Make sure you’re up-to-date on your tetanus shots and boosters. Talk to your doctor if you’re unsure about your tetanus vaccine status or check your online records.

#iHeardSTL #Tetanus #TetanusVaccination

Suggested Caption:

When cleaning up after a disaster, be careful of cuts and wounds. To prevent infection, including tetanus, clean all cuts and wounds with soap and clean water, use antibiotic ointment, and cover. If a wound swells or drains, seek medical attention immediately.

#iHeardSTL #StormCleanup #WoundSafety #FirstAid #Tetanus

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