Tetanus is essentially a wound infection complicated by inoculation of tetanus spores into the wound and germination of these under strict anaerobic conditions. The infection itself is relatively minor; like diphtheria (and its close relative botulism), tetanus is largely an intoxication produced by a highly antigenic protein, tetanus toxin, against which the standard vaccine is prepared by heat denaturation.
Tetanus does not occur epidemically, and cannot be passed from person to person, although conditions associated with wound infections (such as warfare) definitely favor it if the spores are present. The spore forming organisms live in horse manure, and to a lesser extent in human manure (chiefly among people who keep horses); but the spores themselves are highly weather-resistant and can survive in the soil for decades. They will germinate only under strict anaerobic conditions--such as a deep, jagged puncture wound with enough tissue damage to get the infection started (the proverbial "rusty nail") or a simple wound infection (a severe burn or an infected umbilical cord stump in a newborn) which consumes all the available oxygen and thereby allows the spores to germinate underneath.
Careful attention to wound hygiene will effectively eliminate the possibility of tetanus in the vast majority of puncture wounds. Wounds should be carefully inspected, thoroughly cleaned, surgically debrided of dead tissue (under local anesthesia, if necessary), and not allowed to close until healing is well under way "from below." Two homeopathic remedies that may have a useful role at this stage are Ledum 30c, which should be given every two to four hours from the time of the puncture, and Hypericum 30c, which should be substituted if any signs of infection are present.
I have had no experience with Tetanus, the remedy prepared from the toxin itself; and tetanus toxoid is of no value unless the individual has previously been vaccinated, since a primary antibody response takes at least 14 days, and the incubation period of the disease can be considerably shorter than this (three to 14 days). Hypericum can reputedly treat as well as prevent tetanus, but I would recommend giving human antitoxin at the first sign of the disease, since it is far less effective later on.
If you do decide to vaccinate your children with tetanus toxoid alone, there is no need to vaccinate until the child is old enough to walk around and navigate on his or her own (18 to 24 months), at which time the vaccine is far less likely to cause complications.
The poliovirus produces no illness at all in over 90 percent of those exposed to it; among others, it causes, at most, an ordinary flu syndrome with fever, weakness, gastrointestinal symptoms, aches, and pains. Even in epidemic conditions, poliomyelitis (the severe central nervous system complication) develops only in relatively few anatomically susceptible persons, most of whom eventually recover.
The typical symptoms of poliomyelitis include extreme sensitivity to touch, irritability, stiff neck, and fine tremors in the early or preparalytic stage, which may look rather like a viral meningitis. Not infrequently, the fever will return to normal for a few days just prior to the onset of these central nervous system symptoms, at which time it will rise again, producing the "dromedary," or double-hump, fever chart. Paralysis--due to inflammation of the anterior horn cells, or motor nuclei of the spinal cord--often appears suddenly and early in the course of the illness, as complete loss of voluntary movement in a single limb, or perhaps of the palate and throat muscles (in the dangerous brain-stem or bulbar type), producing disturbances of swallowing. Most of these cases will still recover, with residual paralysis or death often supervening much later, after the acute inflammation has subsided.