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CDC Advises Delaying Tetanus Booster Shots for Adults, Adolescents Until 2002

Cheryl A. Thompson

In response to the continuing nationwide shortage of products containing tetanus toxoid, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today that health care providers should delay administering routine booster doses of tetanus and diphtheria toxoids (Td) to adults and adolescents until 2002.

The shortage, described as temporary by CDC in November 2000, stems from one long-time vaccine manufacturer exiting the tetanus toxoid market and the other major manufacturer needing time to increase its production of Td, which takes 11 months from start to finish. CDC predicted in today's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that the shortage would last for the remainder of 2001.

By calling for a delay in routine booster shots, CDC hopes to ensure that health care providers have sufficient supplies of Td to vaccinate:

  • People traveling to a country where the risk of diphtheria is high,
  • People with wounds who need protection against tetanus,
  • People who have received less than three doses of any vaccine containing tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, and
  • Pregnant women who have not received Td within the past 10 years.

The federal agency recommended that health care providers record the names of patients who do not receive routine booster doses through the rest of the year. When the supply of Td returns to normal, these patients should be contacted about receiving their dose.