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Tetanus vaccine in short supply for adolescents & adults

Snohomish Health District issues guidelines; children’s vaccine not affected

SNOHOMISH COUNTY --- A national shortage of tetanus-diphtheria (Td) vaccine has local health officials at work on a plan to ensure that Td is available for the people who need it the most in Snohomish County. The supply problems do not affect the availability of vaccine for infants and children under 7.

“We are assessing which clinics expect to continue to receive Td vaccine from the one major manufacturer left in the nation,” said M. Ward Hinds, MD, MPH, Health Officer for Snohomish Health District. “The Health District will set up a communication network among providers with Td vaccine to coordinate the available supply as judiciously as possible,” he said. Dr. Hinds noted that the situation is changing by the day, and that inconsistent information from the vaccine’s only manufacturer makes planning very difficult.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recommended priorities for administering the vaccine (

“We are sending the current CDC recommendations on prioritizing Td usage to all clinics in Snohomish County. I anticipate the full cooperation of every medical facility and practitioner in the county in following these recommendations,” said Dr. Hinds.

High-priority groups include persons traveling to countries with a high risk of diphtheria, persons with wounds, persons who have never completed the basic series of three doses of tetanus-diphtheria vaccine, and pregnant women who have not been immunized for 10 or more years.

“At this early stage, we are creating the network for good communication among our medical facilities and ensuring that caregivers are on the ‘same page’ for prioritizing vaccine use,” said Dr. Hinds. “We hope the supplier clarifies its distribution process quickly, so we can plan locally with greater accuracy.” The shortfall in supply is expected to continue into 2002, according to the manufacturer, Aventis Pasteur. The Health District will update clinics with shortage information as it becomes available.

Established in 1959, the Snohomish Health District works to improve the health of individuals, families and communities through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats.