- The last deaths from tetanus recorded in Ireland were two deaths over thirty years ago, in 1989.
- Tetanus can only be contracted from a wound. There is a negligible risk that your baby will contract tetanus whilst immobile and an extremely low risk after that.
Health Freedom Ireland (HFI) encourages you to become fully informed about vaccines and the associated illnesses so that you can give informed consent if you choose to vaccinate yourself or your child(ren). This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. HFI is simply bringing this information to you – we neither recommend nor advise against vaccination.
Does the HSE recommend a vaccine for tetanus?
Each of the vaccines outlined below is covered in detail in the linked Health Freedom Ireland documents (including risks, benefits, ingredients and studies). Despite the negligible risk of contracting tetanus in Ireland, there is a recommendation to get 4 doses of tetanus before age 5.
- Boostrix vaccine – pregnant mothers are recommended to take the whooping cough vaccine. However, because there is no singular vaccine for whooping cough, Boostrix (Tdap), which includes diphtheria and tetanus, is used.
- Infanrix Hexa (6-in-1) vaccine is recommended at 2, 4 & 6 months of age.
- Tetravac vaccine is recommended for junior infants.
As of 23rd September, 2023, there were 67,851 adverse events (including 217 SIDS deaths) reported on the World Health Organisation VigiAccess database for 6-in-1 vaccines including Infanrix Hexa, 236,010 (including 1,180 SIDS deaths) for 3-in-1 vaccines including Boostrix and 75,686 for 4-in-1 vaccines including Tetravac.
Does vaccination guarantee protection from tetanus?
No – you may still get tetanus even if vaccinated.
What is tetanus?
Tetanus is not a contagious disease. It is also called lockjaw because some victims are unable to open their mouths or swallow. Symptoms include severe muscular contractions, depression, headaches, and spasms that interfere with breathing.
Tetanus is caused by toxins produced by a bacterium called Clostridium tetani. It is present in the gut of many farm animals and the dormant spores live in soil, dust, and manure. They can enter the body through cuts and puncture wounds, but will only multiply in an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment. The classic example is a wound from a rusty nail because it combines dirt with a deep penetrating wound that is difficult for oxygen to reach. The need for anaerobic conditions is also why tetanus disease so rarely occurs despite undoubted frequent contamination of wounds with tetanus spores.
The incubation period, from the time of the injury until the first symptoms appear, ranges from a few days to three weeks. Careful attention to wound hygiene will eliminate the possibility of tetanus in the majority of cases. Deep puncture wounds and wounds with a lot of dead tissue should be thoroughly cleaned and not allowed to close until healing has occurred beneath the skin. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO):
“Careful cleaning of wounds, both deep and superficial, can substantially decrease the risk of tetanus. Protecting cleaned wounds from recontamination with dressings, and/or topical disinfectants also is important.“
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) says that:
“Clean wounds are very unlikely to contain tetanus spores, and immediate post exposure treatment is not indicated.”
Human tetanus immunoglobulin (TIG) is the recommended treatment where there is a risk of tetanus – see section 21.4 of the NIAC guidelines.
What is the risk of my child getting tetanus in Ireland?
There is currently 1 in 5 million (0.00002%) chance of getting tetanus in Ireland. According to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), There have been seventeen cases of Tetanus since 1982 in Ireland. The risk is negligible for babies that are immobile.
What is the risk of dying from tetanus in Ireland?
The last deaths from tetanus recorded in Ireland were two deaths over thirty years ago, in 1989. The risk of dying from tetanus in Ireland in the decade before the vaccine was introduced in the 1930s was extremely rare at less than 1 in 125,000 (0.0008%).
|average population 1922 – 1931 = 2,999,600|
average annual risk of dying from tetanus during this period < 1 in 125,000 (0.0008%)
Tetanus disease Vs vaccine risk summary
Read the Health Freedom Ireland article on the Infanrix Hexa (6-in-1) vaccine which includes the tetanus vaccine for further information including risk and ingredients analysis, studies in support of and studies highlighting concerns.
|RISK FROM TETANUS DISEASE|
|Risk of getting tetanus in Ireland since 1982||Negligible|
|Risk of dying from tetanus in Ireland before a vaccine was introduced in 1930s||Extremely rare: 1 in 125,000 (0.0008%)|
|Current risk of dying from tetanus in Ireland||Negligible (last death 1989)|
|RISK FROM TETANUS VACCINES|
see section 4 of patient information leaflet for full list of side effects
**Severe allergic reactions can occur to any vaccine but they are very rare and are usually seen in less than 1 in 10,000 people who are vaccinated
(1 dose recommended during pregnancy)
|Risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome||Very rare: up to 1 in 10,000 doses (0.01%)|
|Risk of fever, pain, flu like symptoms, swollen glands, upper respiratory tract infection, fainting||Uncommon: up to 1 in 100 doses (1%)|
|Risk of difficulty breathing (angioedema), collapse, seizures, unusual weakness (asthenia)||Frequency unknown – during routine use (after launched on market)|
|Infanrix Hexa (6-in-1) vaccine|
(3 doses recommended at 2, 4 & 6 months)
|Risk of bronchitis, lymphadenopathy, bleeding or bruising more easily (thrombocytopenia)||Rare: up to 1 in 1,000 doses (0.1%)|
|Risk of Neuropathy, Guillain-Barré syndrome, encephalopathy, encephalitis, meningitis (causal relationship to the vaccine has not been established)||In extremely rare cases (frequency not defined)|
(1 dose recommended at 4 years)
|Risk of convulsions, lymphadenopathy, Guillain-Barré syndrome, shock like state, unresponsive (hypotonic hyporesponsive episodes)||Frequency unknown – cannot be estimated from available data|
Join the parents support group to continue the discussion and learn from the experience of others
Health Freedom Ireland:
Health Freedom Ireland Infanrix Hexa (6-in-1) vaccine