Sometimes accidents happen, and that can lead to making an informed decision about a medical intervention.
My husband came into the living room holding a cup under his left hand. His little finger was bleeding profusely; he was making sure that he didn’t drip on the floor.
He said, “Can you help me? I smashed my finger.”
My husband is a wizard at fixing things and was getting tools from the trunk of the car.The driveway was slippery. As he tried to steady his balance and closed the trunk door at the same time his little finger got caught in the door. I went to get our supply of bandages while he held his hand under running cold water. The fingernail was gone and he was continuing to bleed. I put a pressure dressing on his finger.
As we evaluated the color of his pinky, we made the decision to go to an urgent care facility. A physician assistant took a look at his finger and ordered an x-ray. The tip of his finger was broken.
The wound was cleansed and dressed with an ointment. The physician assistant gave a prescription for an antibiotic and then ordered a tetanus vaccine.
I was surprised. Tetanus is an anaerobic bacteria. It can grow in a deep wound—not a wound that is bleeding freely. Tetanus bacteria are found in soil and manure. My husband was wearing a glove when his hand was crushed in the door. I explained this to the nice young physician assistant. She said that his finger might have been exposed to some dust.
The medical profession has policies and protocols. Sometimes we need wisdom to discern whether a procedure or intervention is necessary or in the best interest of a family member.
She left and said that we should talk about it. We found out that there is no single tetanus vaccine. The vaccine offered was the Tdap—a vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. We said no.
Why not get a booster dose of a vaccine that you don’t need? If you read the vaccine insert you will see a list of risks and side effects. According to the CDC these are mild side effects:
- Pain where the shot was given (about 3 in 4 adolescents or 2 in 3 adults)
- Redness or swelling where the shot was given (about 1 person in 5)
- Mild fever of at least 100.4°F (up to about 1 in 25 adolescents or 1 in 100 adults)
- Headache (about 3 or 4 people in 10)
- Tiredness (about 1 person in 3 or 4)
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache (up to 1 in 4 adolescents or 1 in 10 adults)
- Chills, sore joints (about 1 person in 10)
- Body aches (about 1 person in 3 or 4)
- Rash, swollen glands (uncommon)
Although it is rare some people have more severe reactions.
The Tdap contains aluminum as a adjuvant. An adjuvant increases the immune response to the vaccine. Recent research has shown that aluminum which is injected into the body crosses the blood brain barrier. Aluminum that is ingested in food is detoxified by the liver—not so with injected aluminum. The accumulation of aluminum in the brain can cause disorders over time. Click here for an article that discusses aluminum in vaccines and its transport through the body.
As we discussed whether or not to get the Tdap, we acknowledged that the risk out weighed any possible benefit.