The knowledge and perceptions of pharmacy students regarding tetanus and its prevention at a South African university in Tshwane

M. Malinga, C. B. Mthabeni, N. M. Mabaso, E. Teague, K. J. Mahlaba, M. Sibanda, D. Engler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Tetanus is a medical emergency, caused by spores of the bacterium Clostridium tetani, which cannot be eradicated. Infection with C. tetani does not provide immunity and vaccination-acquired immunity wanes with age and should be maintained with booster doses. This study aimed to establish pharmacy students’ knowledge and perception of tetanus as a vaccine-preventable disease (VPD). Methods: A quantitative descriptive study was conducted prospectively amongst 256 Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm) students at a South African university in the Tshwane District, Gauteng, using a Google Forms® questionnaire. Data was exported to Microsoft Excel®, followed by statistical analysis using BlueSky Statistics version 10.2.0 for Windows, version 26. Results: The majority (80.77%; n = 156) of participants knew about tetanus and its causative agent (70.97%; n = 155). Only 52.90% (n = 155) knew that C. tetani can be found in the soil. The incorrect Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) vaccination schedule was selected by 65.54% (n = 148) while only 23.13% (n = 147) knew that tetanus vaccination requires a booster dose. Of the participants, 49.35% (n = 154) incorrectly believed that a completed tetanus vaccination schedule ensures lifelong protection. Most (60.39%; n = 154) were unsure whether the tetanus toxoid (TT) vaccine could trigger the disease. Moreover, 47.40% (n = 154) did not know if the vaccine can be administered to pregnant women, and 25.97% (n = 154) said the vaccine is teratogenic. Of the participants, 36.77% (n = 155) have received all the tetanus vaccinations as per the EPI schedule. Only 10.32% (n = 155) had received a booster dose within the previous ten years. Conclusion: Even though tetanus disease is taught in BPharm-1 and BPharm-3, this study found a noticeable knowledge gap regarding the disease and its management across all year groups. This is worrisome as pharmacists are often a trusted source of health information and health services. The inconsistencies in knowledge about the disease could potentially increase the risk of tetanus in the population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23A-23F
JournalSA Pharmaceutical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • knowledge
  • perception
  • tetanus
  • vaccination


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