CDC Warns Public of Tetanus Vaccine Shortage

ATLANTA, Ga-Officals at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are asking physicians nationwide to delay the fourth shot of the five-dose tetanus-diphtheria vaccine because of an immediate shortage.

The lack of supply comes after Wyeth Lederle stopped making the booster last year. This leaves one supplier of the vaccine for the US-When Aventis Pasteur.

Hospitals workers and physicians have been asked to reserve the vaccine for those patients in desperate need-those with wounds, burns, pregnant women who have not been vaccinated in the last 10 years, and those traveling to countries where diphtheria is a major concern.

One official said it is still possible to get the vaccine within 24-hours if necessary. The supply should be back to the necessary levels by early 2002. The CDC is recommended that schools allow 14-year-old students to postpone their necessary tetanus-diphtheria boosters until August, 2002.

The vaccine is effective for 10 years, but the immunity lasts for longer than one year. Therefore, there is no serious concern for students to wait one year for their booster.

Pediatricians are also being asked to postpone the fourth shot of the five-dose regimen children receive to prevent tetanus and diphtheria. While their fourth shot would usually be given between 15 and 18 months, officials with the CDC are asking doctors to wait until the children are four instead.

Tetanus is a bacterial infection that can cause serious muscle spasms, lockjaw and death. Diphtheria is also a bacterial infection that causes breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis, or death.

Information from www.arizonarepublic.com

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