As residents make preparations for a potentially active hurricane season, health officials from the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) encourage people to include getting their tetanus vaccination updated.

Tetanus is a bacterial disease that affects the nervous system. The bacteria causing tetanus (also known as “lockjaw”) is commonly found in soil, dust and manure. Tetanus is contracted through a cut or wound that becomes contaminated with the tetanus bacteria. Infection with tetanus causes severe muscle spasms, leading to “locking” of the jaw so that the individual cannot open his/her mouth or swallow, and may even lead to death by suffocation. Tetanus is not spread from person to person.

“It can be prevented with vaccination,” said DOH-Sarasota Immunization Program Director Donna Keith.

Following Hurricane Sandy, there was a lot of debris left by flooding. This put residents working on cleanup efforts at risk for injuries. The bacteria can penetrate even a tiny pinprick or scratch. However, deep puncture wounds or cuts, like those made by nails, knives or barbed wire, are especially susceptible to infection with tetanus. Proper wound care is essential for all cuts and lacerations, regardless of exposure to flood waters.

Below is information on who may or may not need to receive a tetanus vaccination:
•Under normal conditions, all individuals should get a tetanus-diphtheria booster (TD) every 10 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a one-time dose of tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (TDaP), for anyone 7 years of age or older, in place of a booster dose of TD.
•The added protection against pertussis (whooping cough) provided by TDaP will help keep you from spreading this commonly contracted disease to loved ones, particularly infants under 1 year of age. Pregnant women should receive the TDaP vaccine during every pregnancy.
•If you sustain a minor clean wound and have not had a tetanus vaccination within the past 10 years, you need a tetanus-diphtheria or tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (TD or TDaP) booster.
•If you have a serious, puncture-type, deep or dirty wound (rips or lacerations to the skin from a dirty source), you should seek medical attention for the wound and also receive a TD or TDaP booster if you have not had one within the last five years.

All residents are urged to take the proactive step to ensure they are adequately protected against tetanus. Those who regularly fish or garden, as well as those who live in flood-prone areas or who are planning to be deployed to work on recovery efforts, are especially at risk for tetanus. Contact your primary care provider or the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County for more information.

“We offer TD and TDaP vaccines, along with vaccines for overseas travel, at the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (formerly known as the Sarasota County Health Department), with locations in Sarasota and North Port,” said Keith. “We currently have a limited supply of TDaP vaccine available at no charge to uninsured and underinsured adults ages 19-26.”

The following are locations for adult, children and traveler vaccinations:

William L. Little Health and Human Services Center

941-861-2900 – Appointments are encouraged

Immunization Clinic

2200 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 8-11:30 a.m. and 1- 4:30 p.m. Tuesday: 8-11 a.m. and 3-4:30 p.m.

North Port Health Center

941-861-3864 – Appointments are encouraged 6950 Outreach Way, North Port

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 7-11 a.m. and 1-5 p.m.
Tuesday: 7-11 a.m. and 2-5 p.m.

For more information, visit or call 941-861-2900.