How long do you have after a nail puncture to get a tetanus shot?

72 hours. If you have had a tetanus shot within the last 5 years, you should still get the puncture wound looked at.

I’m no doctor (or nurse practitioner) but I googled that question last night and found no solid answer. However, I did find out the answer in the ER last night so I’m posting about it today.

Our good friends, A & M, are moving in to their new house this weekend, so they asked Mark to help move their couch to the street last night. We agree and head over. Well, they’re not ready to go and we have to take all this other crap out to the curb to make room in the apartment to move the couch out.

My husband and our friend A throw all this wooden furniture over A & M’s staircase — its a second floor apartment with a fire escape staircase up it. While the guys attempt to get the couch out the front door, I’m stuck outside because the couch is stuck in the front door and won’t budge. I decide to pick up all the crap they threw off the top of the stairs because I’m stuck outside anyways. Well, I was feeling lazy and I didn’t feel like picking up all these heavy wood pieces that were just getting thrown away. So, I decided to just drag them down to the curb.

I’m dragging everything, and it’s going fine, and then all of a sudden I drag this huge top to a wooden coffee table straight into my leg. The nail pops right in, and then I move, and I can feel it pop out. Straight puncture wound.

Now I have blood dripping down my leg & the couch is still stuck in the doorway. I crawl over the couch through the doorway to pour hydrogen peroxide straight into my leg. Well, they don’t have hydrogen peroxide because they’re moving. I walk home and stick like 8 Q-tips soaked in hydrogen peroxide in my leg (I don’t think anyone else should do that. I do not recommend and I do not think it’s a puncture wound best practice. Do Not Do the Q-tip Thing. Just rinse with water & go see a doctor). Less than 10 minutes later, Mark walks in the front door and tells me that they couldn’t get the f’ing couch out of the apartment, they need A & M’s neighbor to be home & open her door, so they can slide it in there and turn it, to then get it down the stairs.

Because it’s late at night, we go to the ER and I get my tetanus shot (after the mandatory 3.5 hour ER wait). After the shot, the doctor says to me, “did you know you can wait up to 72 hours after a puncture wound to get a tetanus shot?” and I’m like, “WTF?! of course not! Otherwise I wouldnt f’ing be here!!!!” Obviously, I said all that in my head and not aloud.

So today…. my right arm hurts so much from this tetanus shot, I wince every time I move my mouse. And I’m just dreading the text that’s coming later tonight from A & M asking for us to come back and help move that couch outside.

The moral of the story is to 1) stay up-to-date on your tetanus shots, 2) know that you have 72 hours after a puncture wound to get a tetanus shot, 3) keep hydrogen peroxide out while moving, and 4) get the tetanus shot in your non-dominant arm because it hurts like a bitch.

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