Do I Need to Get a Tetanus Shot After Stepping on a Rusty Nail or Tack?

How long has it been since you have had your tetanus shot? Shots are a great way to prevent infections and diseases especially if you have ever stepped on a rusty nail or tack.

Disclosure: I didn’t receive compensation for this post. I just wanted to share my experience with others. If you have any questions about the tetanus shot or infection, please contact your doctor or health care provider.

Have you ever stepped on a rusty nail or tack? Friday night, I was walking in the kitchen towards the laundry room to get some tools from out of the tool box. I felt something sharp puncture my foot. Unlike, the photo above, I wasn’t wearing any shoes. I turned on the light and immediately pulled out the tack from the bottom of my foot. The tack wasn’t brand new and it was a bit rusty. I knew that I needed to get a tetanus shot since it had been since 2007 when I had one last.

How Often Should You Have a Tetanus Shot?

I always knew that you are supposed to have a Tetanus booster every ten years and within the last 5 years if you happen to step on something, animal bite, get a deep burn, cut yourself, or as recommended by your doctor. I really didn’t want to head to the emergency room or go to urgent care just to be told that I needed to have a Tetanus shot booster. We tried calling the nurse line for our health insurance policy because I was trying to determine if I needed shot and how long I had to get it. However, I never received a call back but I have a feeling that was my fault.

About The Tetanus Bacteria

Instead, I started searching Dr Google to answer my questions. While the rust on the tack isn’t a primary concern, it did alarm me because I have no clue where the tack came from. More than likely it was picked up and brought in on the bottom of someone’s tennis shoe. Then it came off the bottom of the shoe. Since, I didn’t know where the tack originated from and I didn’t know if it happened to be contaminated with the Clostridium tetani – the bacteria responsible for causing lockjaw. You can find the tetanus bacteria in the following:

  • soil
  • dust
  • rust
  • feces
  • but it can be found anywhere

The bacteria then travels to your blood stream and once it reaches your central nervous system it releases a toxin that is responsible for muscle spasms and painful cramps. The bacteria often causes the jaw to lock up giving it the nickname “lockjaw”.  It takes a minimum of three days for the bacteria to cause a potential infection. The average incubation period is seven or eight days. However, it is totally preventable.

Signs and Symptoms of a Tetanus Infection

You can start experiencing the signs and symptoms of tetanus any where from a few days or weeks after you have come in contact with the bacteria.

Common signs and symptoms of tetanus, in order of appearance, are:

  • Spasms and stiffness in your jaw muscles
  • Stiffness of your neck muscles
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Stiffness of your abdominal muscles
  • Painful body spasms lasting for several minutes, typically triggered by minor occurrences, such as a draft, loud noise, physical touch or light

Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate

Where to Get a Tetanus Shot?

Where to Get a Tetanus Shot?

Long are the days when you need to run out to your local emergency room or hospital when you step on a rusty nail or tack. Depending on when you last had your tetanus shot, depends on how quickly you need to rush out to get one. If it has been more than ten years or you can’t remember, you should have a shot within the first 24 hours. I had my shot within the last 10 years but it had been more than five years since my injection, it said that I needed to get my shot within 24 to 48 hours. The great news is Walgreens™ is now authorized to give immunizations. So on Saturday afternoon, I went to my local Walgreens™ and headed back to the pharmacy. I simply told the pharmacist on duty that I needed a Tetanus shot. It took her a few minutes to input the order into her computer and she was even able to run it on my insurance card. My insurance company ended up covering the immunization at 100% thanks to the preventative coverage on my insurance policy. Unless you are having symptoms of an active infection, then you don’t have to see a doctor or rush to the nearest emergency room in order to get a Tetanus shot.

Photo Credit: Pixabay and Flickr via Creative Commons

Did you know that you can get immunizations such as Tetanus at Walgreens™?