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Why does a doctor administer tetanus antitoxin and not a tetanus vaccine to a child injured in a roadside accident with a bleeding wound? Explain.

Last updated date: 17th Jun 2024
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Hint:A vaccine is given in order to provide protection to the body from infection of the same agent in the future. When a person is given a vaccine injection, then the body recognizes the dead or attenuated organism as foreign and generates an immune response against it. Also, a memory of the pathogen is generated in the body.

Complete answer: In case of an accident that involves skin abrasions due to contact with soil, there is a chance of infection of Clostridium tetanii. This infection can cause tetanus, a disease that is highly dreaded. So, the spread of such an infection is highly important. It would be done by preventing the action of the tetanus toxin. To do this, the doctor administers an injection of tetanus antitoxin. The antitoxin neutralizes the toxin, hence, preventing the disease.
A vaccine is not given in this case because the work of a vaccine is to prevent the incidence of a disease from the same agent as in the vaccine due to second time exposure. So, in the case of tetanus, a vaccine will be of no use because there is already a chance of infection, which has to be controlled and disease has to be prevented. That is why a vaccine is not given in this case.

Additional information:
A vaccine is given to boost the body’s immune system to fight the further occurrences of the same infection. This is because a secondary immune response is always more effective and heightened.

Note: Tetanus antitoxin injections retain their effect on the body for around 6 months. If a person has been given a tetanus antitoxin injection, any further exposure to the pathogen remains ineffective for a period of 6 months. After that, the person becomes susceptible to it again.