Do I need a tetnus shot?

I was at my parents house this weekend and we tore apart my parents sundeck.

I was scratched and poked with 3-4 rusty nails. Do I need a tetnus shot?

What happens if I don’t get one? How long will I know if I need one?


A light scratch is probably nothing to worry about, as long as it bled fairly freely. Being “poked” is no big deal, either… but a deep puncture, on the other hand, could be trouble; this is your typical “rusty nail” wound. Tetanus is anaerobic; if it gets deep enough into your flesh, where oxygen can’t get to it, it’s in a great position to reproduce and spread out.

If you have contracted tetanus, and you do NOT get a tetanus shot, you are in for some trouble. Tetanus, or “lockjaw,” causes serious muscle spasms, including a tendency for the jaws to lock shut, hence the name. Muscle spasms and contractions are INVOLUNTARY, which means you are going to be one sore sick jerky puppy for a while.

If someone finds you, twitching and thrashing, likely they will call the hospital and you will spend some time strapped to a bed. Muscle contractions are so severe, broken bones are not unknown. They’ll likely have to feed you on a liquid diet.

It’s usually not FATAL, though, so after a few extremely painful and uncomfortable weeks, you’ll be okay. Assuming you didn’t break any bones or crush your teeth or something, that is.

If you’re worried, go and get a tetanus shot NOW. It takes at least two or three weeks to show symptoms, and once you start twitchin’ and dancin’, it’s too late.

I wouldn’t say “too late”… according to this information Tetanus is only fatal 11% of the time. It may require hospitalization and is certainly unpleasant.

If you’ve been boosted in the past 10 years, you’re also pretty much okay.

I’m getting by booster on Thursday. C’mon, all the cool kids are doing it!

The rule is every 10 years, but a booster earlier if a “tetanus prone wound” occurs after 6 years from previous booster. A scratch or poke is not a tetanus prone wound, a deep puncture would is.

Tetanus shots are also recommended for folks with diabetes, since an injury can happen to the foot and not be noticed.

My doctor made me get another one and it had only been **five ** years since my last booster, in the case of a puncture wound. “Just to be on the safe side”, but those SOB’s hurt.

Tetanus shots no longer hurt, why not get one?

And it’s not just rusty nails that you shoudl worry about. Any deep puncture is a problem. I had some very bad glass cuts in my hand from breaking a window (took 46 stitches to close, because the doc was being very careful for cosmetic reasons- still looks icky though…) and I had to have a tetanus booster.

Get one, just to be on the safe side.