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Cuts, Scrapes and Stitches and the Risk of Tetanus

From 25 to 30 foot falls to concussions, broken bones and stitches, this week’s newsletter is about another emergency situation that most parents face at one time or another. The short falls from bicycles, swings, playing hard and running into walls, slides, skating rinks, swimming pool edges and stumbles on sidewalks can be just as hard on the noggin as the big falls. Concrete, wall and hard ground meets a child’s head and there is bound to be a gash or split skin that will require stitches.

On Route
So it’s off to the emergency room. On your way there, be sure to give your child (and yourself) some Aconite to handle the shock and potential for swelling internally within the head. And let the gash bleed…profusely. This is the best way to keep the area clean until you can get to the hospital where emergency staff will ‘debride’ (clean up) the wound, especially if it was more than just concrete your child was in contact with (e.g. road rash incurred during skateboarding in the spring before road clean up!).

What the medical staff are most concerned about at this stage, is any exposure to the tetanus bacteria. The only way it can enter the body in a way that is potentially harmful to children and adults is through open wounds. This bacterium loves an anaerobic environment (meaning no oxygen). So if you are keeping the wound open to the air (oxygen) and bleeding, there is a much better chance that the bacteria cannot take hold.

The Big Wait
So there you are waiting, waiting, waiting in the ‘waiting’ room, you and your child well splotched with blood by now and it occurs to you, the ‘question’ from the doctors and/or nurses. It’s routine and they are going to ask it…the vaccination question. Maybe you have already avoided calling the grandparents because of the ‘V’ issue; the issue is what the situation can possibly become, especially with something as serious as tetanus.

And it is serious, tetanus and the ‘V’ question. Being prepared ahead of time for this question/conversation is so important. You might be very fortunate in that the emergency staff are respectful of your choices, especially when they take the time to understand that you have made an informed choice. Please remember…some emergency medical staff see the worst of the worst…including the effects of a tetanus infection. Parents have also reported though, that their emergency room experience was less than kind. Be prepared.

The Medical Choices
You take the deep breath, decide honesty is the best policy, and in reply to the ‘question’ you say ‘my child is vaccine free’. You will likely be advised at this point to have your child vaccinated with a tetanus vaccine and/or to have your child given an injection of ‘tetanus immune globulin’.

Before respectfully declining the vaccine, do ask the doctor sincerely, if tetanus is a real risk at this point. If the wound has been cleaned well and the doctor assesses a low risk situation, then you can rest in your choice if you are quite familiar with the risks of the tetanus vaccine.

Here is what one parent wrote to me about tetanus, vaccines and their recent family trip to emergency for stitches:

“I feel the more people that are aware the better. I think tetanus is a frightening situation for parents because the only information that we get from doctors is to get the vaccines. Even our pediatrician said to me that he couldn’t possibly do his own research on all the vaccines out there.” – AK

With just a little bit of research, what you will discover is that a tetanus vaccine after the injury will have no effect in preventing tetanus in a vaccine free child or adult.

Onto option number two…the ‘tetanus immune globulin’ or ‘TIG’.

What is TIG?
TIG is the plasma from the blood pooled from a number of people vaccinated for tetanus, then ‘washed’, filtered and then packaged. It is then given as an injection through the muscle rather than through a vein.
This too has risks, the biggest one being that this is a blood product with the real possibility of contamination. As much care is taken to be contaminate-free, tainted blood products are all too real. Know the risks.

Benefits and Risks: Vaccine and TIG
Here is what Randall Neustaedter, OMD has to say about the vaccine and TIG in his book The Vaccine Guide: Risks and Benefits for Children and Adults:

“Anyone with a serious wound should receive tetanus immune globulin (TIG) if they have had less than two previous injections of tetanus toxoid (vaccine). The human immune globulin (TIG) contains tetanus antibodies that will directly attack circulating tetanus bacteria. This will help prevent the multiplication of bacteria and developing infection if it is given within a few days of injury. TIG will not confer lasting immunity to tetanus. By contrast, tetanus toxoid will not provide adequate protection in previously unvaccinated people until the second dose of the series given 1 to 2 months after the first. This is too long a period of time to protect a person from a wound that has already occurred.”

I respect Neustaedter’s work but I would suggest you have a look at the package insert for the TIG product AND the vaccine before deciding whether these are options for you or your child. Be sure to read the ‘Warnings’ Section in the TIG package insert.

And here is what the same parent sent to me in follow up regarding their choice to refuse both the vaccine and TIG:

“When our child got his stitches out the pediatrician stated that the TIG shot is a blood product and should only be given to someone who is at risk. He asked if the doctors at the hospital said anything about the TIG shot to us. Then he went on to say that if they did not discuss it then they would have felt our child was not at risk for tetanus. He (the pediatrician) was wary of the blood product only because of possible transmission of other diseases, saying that it is not 100% safe. Even though they screen, the blood stuff may still get through. After I heard that I was actually more confident that I did the right thing.” – AK

To read the package insert for Tetanus Toxoid vaccine click here (please be sure to read the list of ingredients).

And do visit the National Vaccine Information Centre website where you can find the very best, up to date information on vaccine safety in general and this link in particular, for Tetanus.

What to do?
You can use homeopathy to help support the body heal from deep and superficial puncture wounds.
Ledum and Hypericum will be your first ‘go to’ remedies (after Aconite or Arnica for the shock) in your home kit.

For a handout on Ledum and Hypericum for tetanus, click here. Horse/animal owners? Same information!

Vaccine Free: Now What? 12 -week e-Course
Tetanus will be just one of the many infectious illnesses that will be covered in more detail in the Vaccine Free: Now What? 12-week e-Course (the early bird rate ends March 6th). Today’s newsletter on tetanus only covers a small portion of what you will need to know before that trip to the emergency waiting room! Just think how relieved you will feel knowing what you know before you go! For details on the 12-week e-course, or theMeasles Essentials free sample e-class, click here.

Yours in health and healing,

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