First tetanus death in 30 years leads call to get jab

tetanus vaccination

NSW has recorded its first death from tetanus since 1993, among three new cases of the infection – sometimes referred to as lock-jaw – and it’s led to a call from NSW Health to get a protective vaccination.

Three cases of tetanus – caused by bacteria found in soil – have been identified in NSW this year, prompting NSW Health to urge people to stay up to date with their vaccinations against the disease.

“Tetanus is a rare, but potentially fatal disease. Vaccination is the best protection against tetanus. In Australia, the disease mostly occurs in older people, usually women, who are inadequately immunised,” Director of Communicable Diseases, NSW Health, Dr Christine Selvey, said.

“This serves as a reminder for all older Australians to check their tetanus vaccination status. If there is any doubt, speak to your GP about whether you should have a tetanus vaccine.”

A three-dose primary course of tetanus vaccinations is offered to infants under the National Immunisation Program. Adults who had a primary course of the tetanus vaccine should receive booster doses at ages 50 and 65, if it’s been more than 10 years since the last dose.

Adults who have never received a primary course should receive three doses of tetanus-containing vaccine, followed by a booster after 10 and 20 years.

For more information on tetanus, visit

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