A small pinch for better health | SierraSun.com

A small pinch for better health

Alisha Wyman

Something as simple as a pinprick can introduce the bacteria that causes tetanus, a sometimes paralyzing or fatal disease, into the body. That’s why it’s so important for people to stay up to date with their tetanus vaccination, says Bonnie York, a nurse at the Nevada County Community Health Department.

As part of her job in community outreach, York travels to construction sites, businesses or wherever two or more people are interested, to immunize those who are due for a shot.

Because of routine vaccination, tetanus is rare, but Clostridium tetni, the bacteria that causes the disease, is still prevalent in the environment. A shot every 10 years eliminates the risk of tetanus completely.

“No one ever remembers when they got their last (shot),” she said. Her traveling service is a quick and convenient way to get it over with.

Employers or other groups call the Health Department to set up a time. The shot costs $5, and employers often pay for their employees to get it, York said.

She arrives at the site with her milk crate, or “my little traveling clinic,” which includes alcohol, the cooled vaccine, needles and other supplies. She’s immunized up to 19 people at a time.

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“Everybody should be up to date on their shots. This gives nobody an excuse,” York said. People who work with animals, garden or travel, or work on construction sites are at high risk to contract the disease without the immunization.

“They are the target (of the service),” she said. “Those are the guys that really need [the shot]”

Commonly know as lockjaw, tetanus releases toxins that attack the nervous system. It enters through wounds, and spreads throughout the body. A shot at the time of and every 5 years after a moderate to severe wound is recommended as standard practice.

Along with the traveling vaccine, the Health Department offers all routine immunizations for children for $10. The department also includes family planning, other routine immunizations, checks for sexually transmitted diseases, woman’s reproductive health, a WIC office, maternal child health and tobacco prevention.

York plans to give flu shots as well, depending on the supply. Because of lack of funding, York is unsure how long she will be able to continue her traveling service. But it is something that is needed, she said.

For more information, call 582-7775.