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How Soon Should a Tetanus Shot Be Given After an Injury?

Published on Jun 2, 2023 by Thomas Law Offices.

How Soon Should a Tetanus Shot Be Given After an Injury
From motor vehicle accidents to slips and falls and other dangerous property scenarios, and defective product situations, these are only a few examples of personal injury incidents that can seriously hurt someone. While it may be intuitive to seek medical attention if you suspect you’ve suffered harm after one of these accidents, would you also think to schedule an appointment to receive a tetanus booster shot right away?

There are valid reasons to consider receiving a tetanus shot soon after you suffer an injury. We’ll discuss what tetanus is, how often you should receive the vaccine, and the types of accidents after which you should rush to receive the shot in hopes that it helps you avoid further injuries or a worsening of your health.

What Is Tetanus?

Tetanus is a toxic bacterial disease that can affect our body’s nervous system, causing patients to experience the following:

  • Muscle spasming, especially along the neck, abdomen, lip, and jaw areas
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Breathing problems
  • A fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Extreme blood pressure readings (high or low)
  • Elevated heart rate

According to the Mayo Clinic, it generally takes ten days before patients experience symptoms associated with tetanus exposure. However, that incubation period can range between three and 21 days.

Further complications may arise if the concerns above go unaddressed, including bone fractures, respiratory infections such as pneumonia, the emergence of a pulmonary embolism, and even death.

Data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that just over 30 cases resulted in two fatalities in the most recent reporting year. According to medical professionals, it’s not a bigger concern than it is because individuals receive the tetanus vaccination as children and regular boosters as adults to ward off this harmful bacteria growth.

How Often Should You Receive a Tetanus Shot?

Established medical guidelines call for U.S. residents to follow the following tetanus vaccination schedule to reduce their chances of exposure to the bacteria:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccines should be administered to children at the following ages: 2, 4, and 6 months, between 15 to 18 months, and at 4 to 6 years old
  • Children ages 11 to 12 should receive a Tdap booster
  • Adults need to receive a Td or Tdap booster shot every ten years

If you’re curious about the changes in the vaccines’ acronyms above, additional documentation published by the CDC shows that it has to do with the shots:

  • Containing different dosages of medications
  • Treating additional conditions aside from tetanus
  • Being formulated for different ages

The common element among the shots listed above is that they all protect against tetanus and are vital to your continued good health.

Accidents After Which You Should Receive a Tetanus Shot

While many individuals only think about getting a tetanus shot if asked about it on medical intake paperwork and subsequently recommended by their doctor, it’s really something that people should consider doing anytime they suffer a personal injury. Some examples of personal injury accidents after which individuals should receive a tetanus shot include:

Workplace Accidents

Employees who work in construction or manufacturing, for example, are particularly vulnerable to puncture wounds from tools and hardware or caught-in injuries that break the skin and expose the flesh. Contamination from dirt and rust from a foreign object or the surrounding ground may easily enter the wound if not thoroughly cleaned, leaving a patient at risk for tetanus exposure.

Even individuals who work in the day care, nursing, caregiving, and prison fields run the risk of becoming exposed to tetanus since the bacteria can be transmitted through saliva and feces. So, if a student or resident bites you or you might have been exposed to human waste in working with your charges during an assault, for example, it may be beneficial to seek out a tetanus booster shot.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Drivers involved in car or truck collisions may end up crashing into the windshield, causing significant lacerations or cuts. A crash that involves a bicyclist or pedestrian could result in a car part, street sign, or another object impaling them. A motorcycle accident could cause the rider to be ejected from their bike only to come to land on the ground after first suffering significant road rash.

Each of these scenarios could leave motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians vulnerable to a tetanus-involved infection.

Dangerous Premises Incidents

A situation in which you take your child to what you come to find is a poorly maintained swimming pool or playground, a simple walk through your neighborhood where you get attacked by a neighbor’s dog, or a slip and fall on a spill in a grocery store where you fall and hit your head, splitting it open on a shelf are just three examples of dangerous property situations that could leave you with injuries that expose you to tetanus.

The same goes for a negligent security scenario in which someone physically attacked you because they were aware that a property was unmonitored. If the perpetrator struck you during the attack, breaking your skin, then you may have been exposed to tetanus during that attack.

While it may be critical to seek treatment for the obvious injury, such as a cut, blunt force trauma injury, or potential rabies exposure, receiving a tetanus shot may also be necessary.

Defective Products Incidents

Most consumers make an assumption that a product is reasonably safe if used per operation instructions. However, sometimes design or manufacturing defects or advertising errors aren’t discovered until after a product hits the market and someone gets hurt.

If a product malfunctions and penetrates your skin, doesn’t live up to its promises of being antimicrobial, or otherwise injures you, putting you at risk of tetanus, you owe it to yourself to inquire about the need to receive a booster shot right away. Receiving it may stave off this deadly infection.

Medical Malpractice Situations

Chicago doctors and other medical professionals must exercise a certain standard of care that is similar to what other health care providers with similar training would provide when treating patients. Cases in which rogue, overworked, or unobservant health professionals haven’t used properly sanitized surgical tools, supplies, or machinery or followed personal protective equipment protocol have unnecessarily exposed patients to tetanus and a whole host of hospital-acquired infections, resulting in significant health declines or death.

One leading risk factor for tetanus is dirty needle use. If syringes are inadvertently used on multiple patients by a nurse not focused on the task at hand, or if a caregiver doesn’t change gloves when dealing with a tetanus patient’s bodily fluids before moving to work with another one, there can be the unnecessary transmission of this bacteria.

As you can see, there’s not just one type of personal injury incident that may result in the preventable transmission of tetanus, resulting in irreversible medical impacts or a person’s premature death. You should always seek out medical attention after any accident. Be sure to bring up when you remember having your last tetanus shot and ask if they’d recommend you receive a booster based on the circumstances surrounding your latest injury incident.

How Soon After an Injury Accident Should You Receive a Tetanus Shot?

Since the tetanus bacteria can take hold and cause irreversible harm in a matter of days post-exposure, it’s important to get a booster shot as soon as possible after you’ve suffered injuries in an accident in Chicago or its suburbs, such as Mokena, Park Forest, Calumet City, Orland Park, Skokie, or Joliet.

Nothing beats already being up to date on your vaccines so that there’s no chance of a potentially deadly infection like this setting in. However, receiving a tetanus shot right away after potential exposure to this harmful bacteria shows great potential for stopping any spread of infection.

Steps To Take After a Chicago Accident Involving Tetanus Exposure

It’s important to get checked out after any injury incident, even if you feel fine. Symptoms may not be as obvious after you’ve suffered certain injuries, like a traumatic brain injury or internal organ damage.

You may only realize something is seriously wrong a while after you’re hurt. By then, your injury may have caused permanent and potentially life-threatening harm. The same logic applies to bacterial infections like tetanus. Waiting longer to seek treatment for tetanus may cause irreversible harm to your health.

You can inquire about receiving an updated tetanus vaccine when getting checked out for any potential accident-related injuries at the emergency room, urgent care facility, or your general practitioner in the hours or the next day following your car crash or other injury incident. Most medical facilities can administer tetanus and even rabies shots on the spot if you’ve suffered a dog bite. If they can’t, then they’ll likely refer you to a local pharmacy that does.

You may want to also consult with Thomas Law Offices if you’re suffering from severe injuries or have contracted a serious infection like tetanus due to your involvement in an accident. Proving liability in such cases as is necessary to recover compensation for your injuries is often challenging. An experienced Chicago personal injury attorney at our law firm can provide the competent guidance you need to ensure the best possible outcome in your injury case. So, schedule your free initial consultation now.

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Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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