CDC Warns of Possible Shortage of Tetanus Vaccine

CDC Warns of Possible Shortage of Tetanus Vaccine
Adobe Stock

Key Takeaways

  • A U.S. manufacturer of a form of the tetanus vaccine is quitting production, creating a possible shortage

  • A second company plans to ramp up production of its version, but in the meantime the CDC is urging doctors to use the combo Tdap shot instead

  • Tetanus is a severe but rare illness caused by contact with a bacterium in soil

THURSDAY, Feb. 29, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- After one maker of a type tetanus vaccine quit production, the U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising doctors to conserve the shots in view of a potential shortage.

The vaccine in question is the Td shot, which shields against both tetanus and diptheria.

In an update, the agency said that "MassBiologics has discontinued production of their Td vaccine, TdVax." The product's distributor only expects to have the shot on hand until June, the update added.

While another company, Sanofi, plans to step up production of its own Td vaccine, "it is anticipated that the supply of Td vaccine in the U.S. market will be constrained during 2024," the CDC said.

Doctors do have an alternative: The broader Tdap (tetanus, diptheria, pertussis) vaccine. Pertussis is also known as whooping cough.

"Tdap vaccine is available from both U.S.-licensed manufacturers without supply constraints at this time," so physicians should switch to that shot when possible, the CDC advised.

According to CBS News, doctors have already been migrating to use of the Tdap vaccine.

A spokesperson for the nonprofit MassBiologics told CBS that "similar vaccines have led to a reduction in demand," leading to the company's decision to cut production.

Tetanus is a potentially serious wound infection caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani, often found in soil. An early symptom is "lockjaw," where muscles tighten due to the bacterium's assault on the brain and nervous system. Surviving tetanus often involves months of recovery.

While tetanus was much more widespread in the early 20th century, only a few dozen cases are now recorded each year nationwide, according to the CDC.

Tetanus shots are often given as boosters every 10 years, although doctors often give them earlier if a patient has a serious wound or burn that could leave them vulnerable to the bacterium.

More information

Find out more about the Tdap vaccine at the Minnesota Department of Health.

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, statement, Feb. 29, 2024; CBS News

What This Means For You

There could be a shortage of a key form of the tetanus vaccine this year.

Related Stories

No stories found.