Risk-Benefit Analysis: Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis |

Risk-Benefit Analysis: Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis

admin April 4, 2012

Welcome!  This is the ninth post in my vaccine series.  Today we are talking about Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, and their related vaccines. If you missed any part of this series, catch up with these posts: 10 Bad Reasons Not to Vaccinate, Why “Science” Should Be Carefully Evaluated, What is Herd Immunity All About, How the Immune System Works, Ingredients in Vaccines Part 1, Ingredients in Vaccines, Part 2, or Risk-Benefit Analysis: MMR.

It’s time for more risk-benefit analysis!  Besides the MMR, the next vaccine that causes the most controversy for parents is the DTaP.  It has the reputation of causing a high number of reactions.  Today we’re going to look at each disease and figure out what it’s really like, and how that compares to the risks from the vaccine.


Diphtheria’s a little mysterious.  Most of us have never seen a case (doctors included) and don’t have any idea what diptheria even is.  Let’s dive in and find out.

What is diphtheria?

Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial illness in the throat.  It is often mistaken for tonsillitis or strep throat initially, but it lasts longer and may be more serious.  There are a number of home remedies and homeopathic treatments available for it, as well as anti-toxin and antibiotics from mainstream medicine.

The Normal Course of Illness

First, it appears like a cold, with runny nose and sore throat.  Fatigue and loss of appetite are also common.  Then, a membrane grows in the affected area (often the throat, but may be any mucous membrane).  This membrane often starts on the tonsils, but may cover the throat.  It produces a toxin, which, when absorbed into the body, can cause coma and death.  (Home remedies note that fresh pineapple juice can neutralize the toxin and so can chewing raw garlic.)  If the person does not swallow much toxin, then the illness is usually over after about 2 weeks.  If they have, then complications can occur.

Infections in the groin or ears or skin are also possible, but very rare.

WHO states that most diptheria infections are asymptomatic or are very mild.


The most common complications are myocarditis (inflammation in the heart) and neuritis (inflammation of the nerves).  Neuritis can cause some types of paralysis, but this is usually temporary.  Myocarditis can cause heart failure and if it occurs early in the disease, is often fatal.

Some people also get ear infections or pneumonia as secondary infections due to diphtheria.

Overall, the death rate is about 5 – 10%.  It may be as high as 20% for children under 5.

Vaccine Use

Diphtheria is included in the DTaP vaccine.  Protection is supposed to last for 10 years, and boosting through either exposure to natural infection or booster vaccines is necessary.  Doses are recommended at 2, 4, and 6 months; then 4 – 6 years, and every 10 years after.  It is supposed to be 97% effective.  Another study says 95% after 3 doses.

Vaccine Side Effects

Minor reactions — like redness, swelling, and other “injection site” reactions — are common, occurring in up to 50% of those vaccinated.  WHO states that this vaccine is “very safe.”

VAERS tells a different story.  Reactions include death, intussusception (death of intestines), seizures, severe headache, chest pain, inconsolable crying (which may indicate brain injury, if high-pitched), high fever, swelling/redness, vomiting, hives, severe diarrhea, permanent brain damage, and more.  There were 3,169 adverse events reported in 2011 (remember this is thought to represent just 1 – 10% of the total number; meaning there were probably closer to 31,690 adverse events, possibly more).  About 10% were characterized as “serious” by the VAERS system.

The Bottom Line

Frankly, diphtheria scares me a little.  It can be very serious and has a fairly high death rate.  There is no known benefit to getting diphtheria.  There are home remedies, as well as anti-toxins available if diptheria is contracted (which is rare these days).  However, the DTaP scares me a lot more.  There appears to be anywhere from 3000 to over 10,000 adverse events reported to VAERS each year, and many of these appear to be very serious — high-pitched screaming indicative of brain damage; seizures, vomiting, high fevers, and death.  Although diphtheria is serious, it appears that the risk from the vaccine is much greater.

Risk-Benefit Analysis Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis Pinterest


Tetanus scares parents.  Even those who are committed to remaining vaccine-free often hesitate when it comes to tetanus, especially those who intend to homestead — since it’s known for occurring more often on farms.  But what is it, really, where does it come from, and what are the true risks?

What is tetanus?

Tetanus is an anaerobic disease that grows in a deep puncture wound (it cannot grow in the presence of oxygen). It is a toxin-related disorder that can cause “lock jaw” and possibly death.  It is more common on farms and occurs usually with serious puncture wounds, because it is found in animal feces or soil bacteria.  Most people are offered a tetanus shot if they get a serious cut.  Tetanus is unique because it is one of the few diseases we vaccinate for that is not communicable.  It can, however, be serious if left untreated, and it is difficult to treat once it has set in.  This is because although the bacteria itself is easily killed by exposure to oxygen or heat, the spores it produces are extremely difficult to kill.  The spores are also one of the most toxic substances known to man; only a few nanograms (a billionth of a gram) can kill.

73% of cases occurred from wounds, but it is possible to get tetanus from elective surgery, abortion, pregnancy, dental surgery, or drug use also (in the U.S.)

Worldwide, the vast majority of cases occur in mothers and newborns following birth in an unsterile environment, especially using dirty instruments to cut the umbilical cord.

The Normal Course of Illness

When a person gets a deep cut, the bacteria from manure or soil gets into the wound (if it is present).  There is an incubation of 3 – 21 days before symptoms set in; the shorter the incubation, the more likely the case is to be fatal (shorter incubation is indicative of an injury closer to the central nervous system). If the environment the bacteria is in is anaerobic (no oxygen), the spores begin to germinate and spread throughout the body, acting on various parts of the central nervous system.  This can lead to seizures and uncontrollable muscle twitches.

About 20% of cases will be “local” tetanus, where only one small area of the body is affected, leading to muscle twitches in that area.  This type may take weeks to resolve, but is fatal in only 1% of cases.

Most cases (around 80%) are “generalized” tetanus, and symptoms start with stiffness in the jaw, followed by the neck, and working down the body.  Stiffness and muscle twitches last for 3 – 4 weeks, and complete recovery may take months.

Natural tetanus infection does not result in immunity to tetanus.


Depending on which muscles are involved, breathing may become difficult.  An irregular heartbeat may occur.  Bones may break due to the recurrent muscle spasms.  Aspiration pneumonia may occur in serious, long-term cases.  Hospital-acquired infections are likely.  About 20% of cases are fatal, and 20% of those are directly attributable to the tetanus toxin (rather than other complications).  The death rate from tetanus alone, therefore, is about 1%.

With antibiotic treatment, muscle relaxers, and general support, less than 10% of patients die, according to this source.

Tetanus can only prevented by “passive immunity” — exposure to a tetanus toxoid.  There are homeopathic treatments available that may accomplish a similar treatment with less toxic results.

Vaccine Use

Tetanus can be obtained in a single vaccine, but is usually combined with diphtheria (DT or dT — the lowercase ‘d’ indicating a low-dose diphtheria), or DTP or DTaP (also with pertussis).  Five doses are on the recommended childhood schedule currently — 2, 4, 6 months; 4 – 6 years; 12 – 15 years.  It is then recommended every 10 years thereafter (DT is used in people over 7 years; DTaP is used in younger patients).  Efficacy is supposed to be 80 – 100%.

Since natural infection doesn’t provide immunity, an explanation is required for the vaccine use.  Small amounts of tetanus toxoid are injected into the body several times in order to help the body produce natural anti-toxin without being overwhelmed by actual tetanus spores.

This vaccine is known to cross the placenta during pregnancy.

Vaccine Side Effects

This vaccine is typically offered as a DT or DTaP, which means all the side effects listed for the diphtheria vaccine apply — death, intussusception (death of intestines), seizures, severe headache, chest pain, inconsolable crying (which may indicate brain injury, if high-pitched), high fever, swelling/redness, vomiting, hives, severe diarrhea, permanent brain damage, and more.  42 deaths were attributed to one of these vaccines in 2011 alone.

Although this isn’t research-based, I personally know of people who experienced faintness, dizziness, nausea, extreme localized pain, red/hot spot at the injection site, prolonged crying, and more due to a DTaP or DT shot, which is in line with what the VAERS database shows.

The Bottom Line

The DTaP remains extremely dangerous.  So is tetanus.  Proper wound care is essential when dealing with potential tetanus exposure.  All wounds (including shallow ones, if they occur on a farm or other high-risk area) should be washed carefully and disinfected with hydrogen peroxide.  Hydrogen peroxide contains oxygen, and can kill any tetanus bacteria on contact.  Wounds should be allowed to bleed freely, also, which helps them to clean out any bacteria.  Dressings should be changed as needed, and items like manuka honey or hazelwood (I’ve only just heard of this and know very little about it) or bentonite clay may be used to help clean any wound that looks like it may be getting infected.  Seek medical care to obtain the toxoid if needed.  All in all, diligence in hygiene and proper wound care should prevent tetanus in the modern world.


Pertussis is probably the most talked-about “vaccine preventable” illness around.  A small number of babies do die from it most years, and we’ve seen a resurgence in cases over the last several years.  Many vaccine proponents blame those who are opting out of shots for this increase.  There’s a huge campaign for all babies and children to get vaccinated against this, as well as for adult caregivers to get a booster for it.  What is it really, and why is it so scary?

What is pertussis?

Pertussis is a very contagious respiratory illness that results in extreme coughing fits, and which may be dangerous to small babies.  It is interesting to note that when there was no pertussis vaccination, babies under 1 year almost never got it because they were protected by their mother’s antibodies (because she likely had had it as a child).  These days, since mothers are vaccinated and do not pass antibodies to their babies, young babies who are at serious risk are getting sick.  Pertussis is also mutating, which lowers the apparent efficacy of the vaccine.

The Normal Course of Illness

Pertussis begins as a normal respiratory illness — cough, runny nose, etc.  It progresses after a couple weeks to a serious cough (not in all cases) in which the person coughs so hard and for so long that they make a “whoop” sound as they breathe in.  People, especially small children, may vomit after these coughing fits, cry, or possibly even lose consciousness.  It is possible for people to turn blue.  This occurs because of the difficulty in coughing up very thick mucus.

It depends on the severity, and children under a year are most vulnerable.  Adults may not actually “whoop” because of their larger lung capacity, which means they may not even realize that they have whooping cough at all.  Coughing is usually worse at night than during the day.  Whooping cough can last for several weeks, and coughing spells can persist even for a few months afterwards.

In older children and adults, pertussis is often not recognized, because the course is atypical (no extremely severe coughing, ‘whooping,’ etc.).

Immunity after pertussis infection is not considered permanent.


About 20% of people are hospitalized for pertussis.  In about 5% of cases, pneumonia occurs (nearly 12% in young babies).  In just under 1%, seizures can occur.  About 0.1% suffer encephalopathy, and about 0.2% die from it.  92% of deaths are in babies 3 months or younger.

Hernias and rectal prolapse from severe coughing episodes also occur.  Difficulty sleeping (since coughing is worse at night), urinary incontinence, and rib fracture, though rare, are also possible.

Less serious complications include ear infection, loss of appetite, and dehydration.

Vaccine Use

Pertussis vaccination is included in the DTaP and DTP (the former being acellular, the latter being whole-cell and typically more dangerous).  5 doses are recommended throughout the childhood years.  Strains and development vary widely between types and brands, and efficacy of the vaccine can vary from 46% to 92% in one study.

Protection wanes after 4 – 12 years.  About 21% of adults with prolonged coughing, in one study, actually had pertussis.

Vaccine Side Effects

Up to 50% of children will experience fever, redness, soreness at the injection site and other minor reactions.  Less than 1% will experience seizures and prolonged crying.  Local reactions increase with the number of doses and with a child’s age, and are more likely with whole-cell pertussis (which is why it is not recommended in older children).

The reactions noted above for the DTaP are valid for this vaccine too: death, intussusception (death of intestines), seizures, severe headache, chest pain, inconsolable crying (which may indicate brain injury, if high-pitched), high fever, swelling/redness, vomiting, hives, severe diarrhea, permanent brain damage, and more.

The Bottom Line

Pertussis is most dangerous in babies under three months.  Special care should be taken to protect young babies from infection, especially during the winter months.  Babies should be breastfed if at all possible and kept away from sick people.  Any baby suspected of having pertussis should be taken to a health professional immediately.

In older babies and children, pertussis is extremely annoying but not really dangerous (long-term).  The rate of deaths and increasingly severe reactions to the DTaP in this age group far outweighs the danger from pertussis itself.  A focus on healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle, as well as home remedies and/or seeking the care of a homeopathic or naturopathic doctor can help to overcome pertussis infection.

Final Thoughts

Again, that was a lot!  These risk-benefit analysis posts take quite awhile to research and put together.  I would encourage anyone who has not done so to take a look at all the sources cited, including doing your own search through the VAERS database.  It is certainly enlightening.  Clinical trials cited in the CDC and WHO papers are usually very limited (6 weeks or fewer of data, and only a few thousand at most in sample size), while VAERS looks at a population at large.  It is more accurate to look at VAERS, even if all the reactions cannot be fully attributed to a particular vaccine.  (There are limitations to both methods, which is why I cite both.)

Next week we’re talking about Hib, flu, and varicella (chicken pox).  Don’t miss it!

Are you worried about diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis or the DTaP vaccine?


This is the writings of:



  1. This one was pushed hardest by my pediatrician. I am so thankful that we found Dr. Mary Ann Block who finally convinced my husband about vaccinations.


  2. Thank you so much for this series! I’ll be following along closely.


  3. Thank you again for all your hard work in researching this subject! I will add that I recently read (I believe it was an article on the Weston A. Price Foundation site) that there is no record of anyone getting tetanus if they have had their first 3 baby vaccines for it! It would be interesting to look in to. Of course just because there is no record of anyone who has had the 3 early tetanus shots getting doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, or that it won’t, but all the same….

    I am looking forward especially to your findings on the flu vaccine, since it is such a hot topic at the moment!


  4. Thank you! I am really enjoying these at the moment and looking forward to the chicken pox one!


  5. Thank you for this! It’s the one vaccine my ped has specifically recommended, but I’m skeptical. This info is very helpful.


  6. Great post! The DTaP was a real toughie for me. I definitely didn’t want the pertussis vaccine, because of the reactions I’ve heard of, and also because it doesn’t seem to do much good. The recent outbreaks are almost ALL in vaccinated children. I really believe the disease has mutated to the point that the vaccine is next to worthless. Anyway, I believe I have had pertussis (though I’m not sure — I never saw a doctor for it, and my parents didn’t think it was pertussis because I was vaccinated) at the age of eight or nine. If so, my kids are way better protected by my breastmilk than they would be by the vaccine.

    The tetanus, though, I would be tempted to get, especially if we were on a farm. It’s an awfully dangerous disease. But I myself am not current on my tetanus shot, and my son so far hasn’t received any. Can you even get it by itself?

    Diphtheria is a pretty scary disease, too. But I hear the antitoxin is a very good treatment for it. Have you heard the story of the diphtheria outbreak in Nome, where sled dogs saved the town by bringing antitoxin through a snowstorm? Since I’m unlikely to be stranded in Alaska and reachable only by sled dog, it seems we could rush to the doctor at the first sign of the disease. It’s another I might be tempted to get for my kids someday, if I can get each shot separately.


  7. Interesting. I’ve had these symptoms as an adult, which leads me to wonder if my “sinus infection” was really pertussis. Dietary change seemed to clear it up after having recurring episodes for several years.

    I’m curious – you mention that the tetanus vaccine will cross the placenta in pregnancy, but I also note that a boostser is required. I am currently pregnant and I haven’t had a tetanus shot in 13 years. Is there still a chance it will cross the placenta? Also, is this why you say it is possible to get tetanus from pregnancy?

    Thanks for this series. So informative!


  8. […] Welcome!  This is the tenth post in my vaccine series.  You may have missed  Getting Serious, 10 Bad Reasons Not to Vaccinate, Why “Science” Should Be Carefully Evaluated, What is Herd Immunity All About, How the Immune System Works, Ingredients in Vaccines Part 1, Ingredients in Vaccines, Part 2, Risk-Benefit Analysis: MMR, or Risk-Benefit Analysis: DTaP. […]


  9. MAM, I have a question for you. In your article, you state that antibodies for pertussis passes through breast milk, but if you don’t breastfeed and vaccinate, nothing will help your child. I had pertussis a few years back and was given a booster (I have no idea WHY, but that’s another story), and my daughter was only vaccinated with DTaP 3 times (I wish I hadn’t at all, horrible reactions), but if I had recent immunity, does that trump the vaccine damage? Or does it succumb to the vaccine and we now have that “immunity”? My daughter is 19 months, still breastfeeding, and has never had pertussis herself although mostly everyone who fully vaccinates around us has had it with their kids and themselves. Does this mean we are safer than those who vaccinate, regardless of breastfeeding or not?

    Thank you so much for this information!!! I wish I knew this before my daughter was born but we know better now. I don’t want to imagine what would have happened if she had continued with shots. DTaP gave her a fever, swelling, inconsolable crying, and she twitched, all of which the doctor said it was normal for babies to go through that at this age. I wanted to smack her, at the least.


  10. […] Works, Ingredients in Vaccines Part 1, Ingredients in Vaccines, Part 2, Risk-Benefit Analysis: MMR, Risk-Benefit Analysis: DTaP or Risk-Benefit Analysis: Chicken Pox, Hib, […]


  11. […] Works, Ingredients in Vaccines Part 1, Ingredients in Vaccines, Part 2, Risk-Benefit Analysis: MMR, Risk-Benefit Analysis: DTaP, Risk-Benefit Analysis: Chicken Pox, Hib, Flu,  Risk-Benefit Analysis: Pneumoccocal, Meningococcal […]


  12. I just wanted to say thank you for the hard work you’ve done on this in-depth series! I am so grateful!


  13. This vaccine is not worth risking your child’s health or LIFE over. Especially when you cannot sue if/when it harms them.

    Read how the scientific/medical profession is running rings round the truth; read these 12 killers ploys that are used against sensible alternatives and new discoveries which threaten the business status quo.

    Ploy 1. Lower the risk by failing to fully report vaccine damage
    Ploy 2. Secrecy
    Ploy 3. Junk Science
    Ploy 4. Lies and Statistics
    Ploy 5. Fear mongering
    Ploy 6. Pass inhibiting laws
    Ploy 7. Outlaw the opposition
    Ploy 8. The Voice of Authority
    Ploy. 9. Scorn and Derision
    Ploy 10. If all else fails.. Resort to bullying
    Ploy 11. Arrogant Indifference and Inaction
    Ploy 12. Fudge it



  14. […] in Vaccines Part 1, Ingredients in Vaccines, Part 2, Risk-Benefit Analysis: MMR, Risk-Benefit Analysis: DTaP, Risk-Benefit Analysis: Chicken Pox, Hib, Flu,  Risk-Benefit Analysis: Pneumoccocal, […]


  15. […] in Vaccines Part 1, Ingredients in Vaccines, Part 2, Risk-Benefit Analysis: MMR, Risk-Benefit Analysis: DTaP, Risk-Benefit Analysis: Chicken Pox, Hib, Flu,  Risk-Benefit Analysis: Pneumoccocal, […]


  16. I was just going to comment on 2 things that would help you. I am an RN in the OB/Peds field, and I have recently gone “natural” in many ways, and love the things you write about, but would suggest that you site your resources, so you can appear more trustworthy and credible to people wanting to choose this kind of lifestyle, but are skeptical and don’t believe everything they read. Also, the statistics are hard to use because they don’t tell the whole story, and tend to be skewed depending on which side you fall. You need to list the original study because I have seen way to many “researchers” misuse information to make it fit their case. Like I said, I love what you are doing, but these are just some tips to help you be more credible to the people who are contemplating going this route.


  17. My partially vaxed son just got over Whooping Cough. Scary at times, esp when he was choking and throwing up from the coughing. If I had known he could still get it after being vaxed, even though it’s only partial, I wouldn’t have gotten him vaxed at all!


  18. I am a first time grandmother and am so very excited about this sweet baby girl. However, my daughter’s pediatrician has been pushing for me to get vaccinated for whooping cough, going as far as calling my daughter incompetent for allowing her baby to be around me. My granddaughter is now five months old and I have not been allowed to see her for the past three weeks. I’m heartbroken, but I simply can’t bring myself to get this shot. I am very sensitive to food additives, over the counter drugs, wheat, sugar and antibiotics. If there’s a side effect for a drug I usually get it. Plus, I have an extremely high ANA count (auto-immune) that my doctors watch… no symptoms, yet, thank goodness… but that doesn’t mean there won’t be complications in my future. I’m at a loss as to what to do here… This whole situation makes me very sad. Do you have any suggestions?


  19. I really enjoy reading your articles about not vaccinating children, as I decided to opt out for my 13 month old girl. However, I am still extremely worried and quite frankly, I’m still torn after reading cases where unvaccinated children get tetanus for example. I bet every non-vax parent goes through this at some point… It’s gotten to the point where I sometimes can’t sleep at night.

    I read you can even attract tetanus from a splinter, that means every time my daughter as a child, a teenager, an adult has a splinter or a tiny cut, I’ll be worried to death (even though the odds are small). How do you treat the very first signs of tetanus? Has anyone had it happen? Has anyone’s unvaccinated child had tetanus? What did you do?


  20. I just want to add a comment that when I was pregnant this last time (gave birth February 2014), they were pushing me to get the DTaP. When I first looked into it in September, the CDC website said it was not recommended for pregnant women. When I looked again in December-that side note had been removed, but nothing had changed with the vaccine. I also had a nurse tell me, that it would more than likely result in my children at home getting pertussis from me and it would do no good to the baby, but might harm her lungs from the ingredients.


  21. […] about the vaccine ingredients. I found a good, well-researched post about risks vs. benefits at Modern Alternative Mama, and I am sure there are others available as […]


  22. Hey Kate! I love your blog and am grateful for the time you put into researching and sharing this information with us. I just have one question regarding this post. If immunity isn’t though to be permanent after a pertussis infection, how would another be able to pass along those antibodies if she had it as a child? Thanks again!


  23. I’d like to mention that hydrogen peroxide is NOT recommended to treat a potential tetanus wound because it contributes to cell death, and tetanus thrives on dead cells. You need to flush it out with water and heal it from inside out. Dr. Suzanne Humphries recommends instead to use sodium ascorbate diluted with water and colloidal silver.


  24. Thank you for sharing your research. I found it to be very helpful, non bias and non fear mongering. It also helps that you added links to original source.


  25. I’m past my 10yr mark for Tetanus by a few months and my doctor is wanting me to get the Tdap. I have no problem taking the Td but am hesitant to take the Tdap. At this time in my life I’m not around babies but within the next 10yrs my daughters may marry and start a family. If I take the Td now and decide several years down the road (if I become a grandmother) that I need the Pertussis…is it safe to then take a Tdap even though it hasn’t been 10yrs. I’m just now sure what to do.


  26. My grandson had his first vaccination at age 3. Although his mother (my daughter) had a serious reaction with three days of screaming and 7 more days of crying, my grandson didn’t appear to have any reaction. But a couple weeks after the shot, his nose started running, and it hasn’t stopped. It’s been more than 6 months. Sometimes he coughs so hard that he wets or soils himself. We don’t know how to help him, and his doctor doesn’t know either.

    Any recommendations?


  27. My son had a reaction to his dtap shot at 23mos which was a makeup because he was sick for his 18 month shot. He had purple splotchy spots around his leg and it was swollen and hot. Our first Dr said it was from the aluminum but every vaccine has that. Then our 2nd Dr said it looked more like a tetanus reaction. He now has a medical exemption for dtap. He was also recently diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder which upon starting my research the dtap vaccine was listed as a potential cause/contributor for an APD. I find it odd that the one vaccine he had a reaction to is one poster on the website.


  28. TO ADMIN OF POST…Not for public post but for your info……. You have some lime green headings that are readable but the light more bluish green, like the ‘comment’ above this square, and the ‘name’ and ’email’ and all of the links are that light pastel blueish green that is almost unreadable.. I notice many people use that and a yellow, the yellow glares back like a blur and is all but unreadable too..I know it is a fad to have ‘soft’ colors but not a readable fad at all. Some people use such light letters and thin fonts that it is such a strain to read. You are doing a great service warning people with the damages of vaccines, my great grandchildren are damaged but can not get their parents to believe it because EVERYONE is damaged so they think it is normal.. So sad.


  29. It looks like the WHO links (I clicked on 3) are all no longer active. It says they changed their site in 2020.


  30. I am confused. This is your blog: Tetanus can only prevented by “passive immunity” — exposure to a tetanus toxoid.

    Since natural infection doesn’t provide immunity, an explanation is required for the vaccine use. Small amounts of tetanus toxoid are injected into the body several times in order to help the body produce natural anti-toxin without being overwhelmed by actual tetanus spores.

    So the way I understand it, the tetanus V is not safe but the toxoids are? And you said it is more likely to occur on a farm, does that mean us farmers have more benefit to receive the V?
    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the V but I surely don’t want myself or loved ones getting tetanus bc we didn’t V. Can you give a little more guidance to ease this momma heart?~


    • Hi Kristen! For guidance, you may want to find answers from a naturopathic doctor or health care practitioner that you trust. The natural infection and the vaccine cannot provide immunity long term (which is why the vaccine requires so many boosters and doses). The toxoids are not “safe” in the traditional sense of the word. The idea of passive immunity is risky by nature, but that same risk is in the vaccines along with all the other added risks as well. Tetanus exposure is more likely to occur on a farm due to the increased likelihood of animal feces in the soil. Having grown up on a farm and taking my kids there as much as possible now, it is something I have debated often as well. There are treatment options for those who have a wound and are concerned about tetanus.

      In our blog, Vaccination During Pregnancy, there is a bit more info: Tetanus is an acute, potentially fatal bacterial illness caused by exotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. Tetanus bacteria is not contagious and requires anaerobic conditions to survive; it is transmitted through wounds which don’t bleed adequately to oxygenate and clear the bacteria.

      Incidence and mortality of tetanus also declined rapidly in the U.S. throughout the 20th century, as adequate sanitation and access to proper wound care improved. Tetanus incidence and mortality over the last two decades has been under 50 cases annually, with under 10 deaths per year – so pregnant women in the U.S. are currently at approximately 0.000016% risk of tetanus infection. However, this tremendously low risk may not have been achieved entirely through mass vaccination.

      Existing research demonstrates that high titer antibody counts may not protect vaccinated patients from tetanus infection. One study revealed that intramuscular injection of tetanus toxoid may not stimulate the correct antibody response to tetanus neurotoxin in the brain, where it is needed. In fact, further evidence suggests that low-level, continuous natural exposure to tetanus bacteria generates robust immunity, while vaccination may suppress it – and tetanus vaccination has been associated with subsequent suppression of T-cell production.

      Ultimately, only you can decide what is best for you and your family.


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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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