State and City Health Departments Advise People to Get a Tetanus Vaccine to
Prevent Possible Infection
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he has signed an Executive
Order that will make it easier for people in areas affected by Hurricane
Sandy to be vaccinated against tetanus to prevent infections that could
result from exposure to tetanus bacteria during post-storm cleanup
activities. Under the Order, pharmacists will be allowed to administer
tetanus shots at their place of business, and emergency medical technicians
(EMTs) and dentists will be able to assist city or county health
departments in administering tetanus vaccines.
?Protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers has been our main priority
before, during and after Hurricane Sandy,? Governor Cuomo said. ?It is
critical that people performing cleanup work after the storm take all
necessary health precautions, including getting a tetanus vaccination if
needed. The Order will help to make the process easier and faster for
those in storm-affected areas.?
Due to the possibility of getting deep cuts or wounds when cleaning up
debris, performing tasks that involve contact with soil or dirty materials,
or making repairs to homes in the aftermath of the Hurricane Sandy, people
need to guard against tetanus infection. Emergency responders, volunteers
and residents working on repair, construction and cleanup projects should
check to make sure they have been immunized for tetanus within the last 10
years; if they are not up-to-date with the immunization or are unsure of
the date of their last tetanus-containing vaccination, they should obtain a
The New York State Health Department and the New York City Department of
Health and Mental Hygiene urge people to contact their primary health care
provider first to receive a tetanus booster shot. If their primary care
provider is not operating or they cannot get to their primary care
provider?s office, individuals should contact their local pharmacy or local
health department to inquire about receiving a booster shot. Many
pharmacies in the affected areas are ready to provide these vaccinations.
Residents in New York City can call 311 to locate a vaccination site.
This week, the State Health Department delivered a total of 5,000 doses of
Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine to the following counties:
Suffolk County, 1,500 doses; Nassau County, 1,500 doses; Rockland County,
1,000 doses; and Westchester County 1,000 doses. New York City has both
Tdap and Td (tetanus and diphtheria) vaccine on hand.
Tetanus is an infection caused by bacteria that are present in dust, soil
or manure, and enters the body through puncture wounds or cuts. After
entering the body, the bacteria can produce toxins that can cause painful
muscle contractions in the neck and abdomen, which are often characterized
as "lockjaw", and can impair breathing. Left untreated, tetanus can be
In addition to following safety guidelines to prevent injuries during
cleanup or construction activities, all wounds and cuts should be washed
thoroughly with soap and water. Medical attention should be sought for
puncture wounds and lacerations. People who do sustain injuries and have
not had a tetanus booster in the past five years should be revaccinated as
part of treatment for the injury.
As a result of widespread immunization, tetanus is a rare disease in the
U.S. All children who attend day care in New York State, as well as those
entering grades K-12 are required under State law to receive a series of
immunizations for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. A booster vaccine
(Tdap) is also required for children born after January 1, 1994, who will
be enrolled in grades 6-11.
The vaccine may be effective after a person suffers a wound, but in some
cases, tetanus immune globulin may be required. A tetanus booster in the
form of a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis)
vaccination is recommended and will provide protection against two
additional diseases. A Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster can also be
used. Tdap is preferred over Td when available and will provide adults with
protection against pertussis (whooping cough), which has seen a rise in the
number of reported cases statewide this year.
Additional information on tetanus is available at: