Informed Parent Winter 1996

From: Pulse, 19/10/96

If I so much as mention the word ‘tetanus’ these days my partners’ eyes glaze over like those of a myopic snake.

As far as I’m concerned, tetanus is not an infectious disease characterised by muscle spasm but a bottomless pit of item-of-service cash.

It is 5 years since our last tetanus blitz and in the past we would have been looking forward to redoing them all. But, rather sneakily I think, the powers that be have changed the rules and it is now 10 years between boosters.

Even so, we thought we ought to do something so we ran a computer search. Over 70% of over-16s had no recorded tetanus status.

I wrote a standard letter saying that we were updating our computer records and suggesting that if the patient was certain that over 10 years had elapsed since their last booster, they should come and see the nurse. If there was any doubt they could discuss it next time they were in.

So far we have picked up over 200 extra vaccinations and countless thanks for my thoroughness and concern!

Editor - In the latest edition of ‘Immunisation against infectious disease’ 1996, Dept. of Health, the following recommendations are given for adults and children over 10 years old

For immunised adults who have received 5 doses in childhood., booster doses are not recommended, other than at the time of tetanus prone injury, since they have been shown to be unnecessary and can cause considerable local reactions. There are data that show that tetanus has occurred ony exceptionally rarely in fully immunised individuals despite the passage of many years since the completing dose of a standard course of immunisation, and without subsequent routine boosting. Cases that have occurred were not fatal.

There is therefore little justification for boosting with tetanus vaccine beyond the recommended