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Dr. Abby
Dr. Abby, Board Certified MD
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 10330
Experience:  Family Physician, practicing medicine for over 10 years, United States
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This is actually a follow up from my question on 3/27/10 - On

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This is actually a follow up from my question on 3/27/10 -
On that day I was lightly scraped by the end of a rusty dirty tomato cage in my garden. It was through a long sleeve shirt and did not break the material of the shirt. The injury was very shallow and had 1 drop of blood. I didn't see any dirt in the wound (like I said, it was thruogh a shirt sleeve)
Was fully vaccinated for tetanus as a child.
I had a tetanus booster on 4/18/00 and then again 20 hours AFTER this injury on 3/28/10. So my original booster was about to expire. I did contact a helpful nurse on here but I have some additional questions:

Does the booster really only last 10 years....or could it last a little longer? I'm concerned that mine was about to expire when this happened.

How does the Td booster help me after the fact? Doesn't it take 2 weeks to create the anitbodies?

How likely is tetanus to occur if the original vacc was expired or close to expire?

Thank you.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 7 years ago.

I can understand your concerns.
The tetanus vaccine is believed to give AT LEAST 10 years of immunity, but in many cases probably gives more than this.
Most likely, you have at least a low level of antibodies circulating. It can take up to two weeks for the booster to stimulate an increase, you are correct.

However, in your case, I do not believe you have cause to worry for a few reasons.
First, you are within the 10 year period of vaccination
Second, you did not recieve a wound that is at risk for tetanus

The fact that you have received your primary series along with two boosters also decreases your risk.

Almost all cases of tetanus occur in people who did not receive the primary series or did not receive the booster within the 10 years. You are neither of these.

Also, after the fact, the Td booster serves to increase your antibodies for the next 10 years or more.

I hope this serves to reassure you.
Feel free to ask any follow up questions,

Dr Abby

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Edited by Dr. Abby on 4/1/2010 at 5:34 PM EST
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