Tetanus Vaccine: Making Rusty Nails Less Scary

When I was a child I was scared to death over tetanus, chiefly because my babysitter would "entertain" me with horrific stories of one of the severe complication of tetanus, "lockjaw". Although I was fully vaccinated, rusty nails became the rattlesnakes in my backyard and it was hard for me to fathom that someone would not be vaccinated against tetanus.

This all came back to mind when I read about the recent events in Kenya where the vaccine is being erroneously labeled by the Catholic Church there as a population control scheme.

If there was genuine concern for reproductive matters in Kenya it would be tetanus--not the tetanus vaccine--that would be recognized as the real threat. Maternal and neonatal tetanus claim over 100,000 lives per year in Africa and the vaccine is literally life-saving. I have seen exactly zero cases of tetanus due to the high penetration of the vaccine here in the US.

If one were to contemplate nefarious population control mechanisms, infectious diseases would be first on the list; indeed, throughout most of human history they have served in this role. It is only after the technological breakthrough that brought us vaccines, that the human race has been able to flourish into old age. 

The anti-vaccine movement, in all of its incarnations, represent the return of the primitive.