THERE IS NO MEDICAL ADVICE IN THIS POST. I am discussing some facts that we have learned, and you should do what your doctor advises regarding all of this.
The thing we normally call a tetanus shot actually consists of 3 vaccines in one: for tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis). When people are allergic to this trivalent shot, it is usually the pertussis they are actually allergic to.
My son is severely allergic to the pertussis vaccine, having had a life threatening anaphylaxis reaction years ago. I had a lesser important skin reaction, but still a reaction that meant I can’t take the trivalent shot again.
My son was in the military when he had the reaction, and they started giving him a different shot that only contained tetanus vaccine. That worked for him for many years.
In 2020, all UN countries stopped producing the tetanus-only vaccine. Gone, poof! No one in this country can get it, nor can we have it brought here from a country that still has it available. In our research of trying to find an answer to this problem, we have not found any explanation as to why the single vaccine was discontinued.
The percentage of people who have this allergy is small, yes, but their life is in danger from even small injuries. Tetanus is all around us, in the ground and other places. When my son contacted the CDC looking for help with this, their information was: try not to get hurt. Yes, seriously, that was it.
We have discovered that there is a somewhat effective treatment for an injury that looks like it has the potential to become a tetanus injury. The evaluation of the injury would be done in an emergency room. If the ER doctor determines that this injury has tetanus potential, tetanus immune globulin is given in a large amount to the patient. There are different types of tetanus immune globulin: one is trivalent and contains the 3 things in the regular tetanus shot, but there is one type that only contains the treatment for tetanus.
In the amounts needed, this is a very expensive treatment, but what is a person’s life worth? When medical science moves forward and makes life better for people, it’s wonderful. When they move forward and eliminate a life saving vaccine that only a small amount of people have a problem with, it feels like we don’t matter much. We try not to get hurt, and hope that, if we do, our local hospitals can get the specialized treatment in the right amount to save our life.
If you have this allergy, be aware of this issue, talk to your doctor about it, and, oh yea, try not to get hurt.