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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Tetanus

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Question: I went to my doctor for a pap test, and she asked about when I had my last tetanus shot? I have no idea how long. I wanted someone else's opinion about having this shot. I am a healthy 34 year old female. Do you think this is a necessary thing to have done? I know it was important to have the proper immunizations during childhood, so is this necessary in adulthood?

Answer: Tetanus is good for 10-15 years and there has been a national push to immunize patients since we have slipped over the last 15 years or so. Secondly, diphtheria can reoccur and should be given with the tetanus. I frankly feel this is a more important issue than tetanus. I used to see 2-3 adults a year with adult diphtheria(post immunization as a teen). This is a lingering and tough disease although not fatal like childhood disease. I recommend it;but, it's not life and death.

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