Over the last several weeks (months, really), I have seen two related stories increasingly pop up in my natural health and natural parenting groups.
They go like this:
#1: “I visited the emergency room today because I cut myself pretty deeply with a knife while cooking dinner. The doctor recommended a tetanus shot. Should I get one?”
#2: “My kid just got a cat scratch/paper cut/other tiny and non-serious abrasion. Should I rush him off to the ER to get a tetanus shot?! How many different essential oils and homeopathics do I need to give him to ensure he doesn’t get tetanus?”
Please, please, please. Just stop already.
That Paper Cut is Not Going to Give You Tetanus
Look, tetanus is serious, but it’s not lurking around literally every corner, ready to kill you.
Tetanus used to affect a few hundred people per year or fewer than 1 in 100,000. And today, it kills about 10% of people (who catch it). That is astronomically high compared to, say, the 1 in 2 million people who die of chicken pox, but it’s not exactly 100% fatal, either.
Tetanus is found in soil, animal feces, and rusty implements. Chances are if you’ve been cut by something other that’s relatively clean, and you don’t go rub your open wound in feces or soil, you basically can’t catch tetanus. And even if you do get your wound dirty (say, if you cut yourself while gardening), wash that bad boy and watch for signs of infection. But if it’s a shallow cut, the chances of tetanus are almost impossible.
On the off chance you do show any signs of tetanus, get thee to an emergency room and get a tetanus immunoglobin (anti-toxin) shot to stop the disease, and follow medical procedure until you are well. This is most likely on deep puncture wounds that don’t bleed well, and which get dirty in soil or with animal feces (like on farms). Even then it’s not a certainty, but I would definitely care for such a wound very carefully.
This nonsense about fearing every little cut and scrape is just not realistic. It’s based on fear, and not on fact.
If your child is running outside, and trips and skins his knee, he does not need a tetanus shot. You also do not have to rub the skin raw, cleansing it with every antibacterial you have, every hour on the hour, until it is healed. I have seen some parents nearly describe such things….
I have seen parents flip out about small cuts they didn’t even know their children had…after they are well scabbed over, already healing, and showing no signs of infection.
Please, for the love. Learn what really is worth worrying about and what is not. Minor, shallow, everyday wounds are simply not something that should even be on your radar.
Of course, doctors are not helping by suggesting a tetanus shot for basically everything. Glass sliced your leg open? Tetanus shot! Stapled your finger? Tetanus shot! Bumped your head on your car door slightly? Tetanus shot!
(I sincerely hope you do not go to the ER for a slight bump on the head. A serious one that causes loss of consciousness or vomiting, okay, I get it. But the bump that causes you to say “ow” and rub it for a minute, please. Don’t.)
Stop letting doctors scare you. Not every single tiny cut is going to put you at risk for tetanus. This is a technique to scare you into just getting the vaccine. And if you have reasons why you are not getting it, why are you letting people scare you? Why have you not armed yourself with enough real information that you don’t fall for it?
Please, if you are opting to delay or forego vaccines, get informed.
Learn about each disease. Research the signs and symptoms, and where each comes from. Learn the possible complications. Find out the likelihood of those complications. Learn how to treat the disease naturally and when to call a doctor for help.
If you know all of that…then you will not be scared when someone tries to give you false and over-the-top information. Because you’ll know they’re full of it, and it won’t even give you pause.
We have a great series on vaccines (cited from PubMed, CDC Pink Book, and WHO) to get you started. If you’re still feeling uneasy, read through it today.
Just, please. Let’s stop giving in to the scare tactics and flipping out about things that are never going to happen. Because I promise you, that tiny little paper cut? It won’t give you tetanus.