Saturday 10/16/21

Finland offers free tetanus vaccination to residents throughout life

Tetanus can be contracted from soil through a cut or broken skin or from an animal bite. THL recommends getting booster shots to prevent infection.

Photo: THL.
Photo: THL.

Finland offers free tetanus vaccinations to all residents, whether born in the country or arrived from abroad, throughout their lives, the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) recalled on Wednesday.

Tetanus is a serious disease that can be effectively prevented with vaccinations. However, adults should regularly get boosters to strengthen the vaccine they received as a child, the health agency says.

Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is caused by the Clostridium tetani bacterium, which is commonly found in soil.

Tetanus can be contracted from soil through a cut or broken skin or from an animal bite.

The disease symptoms include painful muscle spasms.

If left untreated, the disease will lead to death, and even 1–2 out of ten patients receiving treatment will die.

In countries such as Finland, cases are fortunately rare thanks to high vaccination coverage and high levels of hygiene. Usually health authorities report around 1-2 tetanus cases per year.

Adults need booster shots

Tetanus vaccines are included in the national vaccination program.

Children are vaccinated at a child health clinic and at school. Adults should have their tetanus booster shots at the age of 25, 45 and 65. After this, the booster shots should be repeated every ten years.

"Due to corona restrictions, people are spending more time doing outdoor activities, gardening and spending time at their summer cottage. For this reason, it is particularly important to ensure that you are properly protected against tetanus” says Anniina Virkku, Medical Specialist at THL.

Tetanus differs from many other diseases prevented by vaccines due to the fact that herd immunity cannot be attained with vaccinations.

Tetanus is not transmitted from person to person, so the risk of being infected is not at all dependent on whether others have been vaccinated or not. The only way to be protected from tetanus is by getting the vaccine yourself.

The vaccination is available free of charge from your health centre.

The Finnish health authorities recommend staying up to date on the vaccination schedule and getting booster shots to avoid infections.