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"Should I get a tetanus shot if I got poked with a needle?"

ZocdocAnswersShould I get a tetanus shot if I got poked with a needle?


I was sewing a button back onto a shirt and stuck myself really hard with the needle. It bled a lot and now I'm worried. Should I get a tetanus shot for this or see a doctor? I haven't had a tetanus shot since I was a kid. Could I get an infection?


Tetanus shots are given to protect against infections with a certain type of bacteria that grows in the soil and can be found also on rusty metallic surfaces. The infection with the tetanus bacteria can be very serious, which is why we vaccinate against it. If the needle you were sewing with was clean and not rusty, then the odds that it would be contaminated with the tetanus bacteria are very low. You should definitely clean the spot with you were poked with soap and water and apply some antibacterial ointment. You should also watch it closely for any signs of redness, warmth, or infection and let your doctor know right away if you see those. At the same time, it is probably worthwhile getting a tetanus shot, even though the likelihood of getting tetanus from this injury is pretty low. I say this because you really should have a tetanus shot at least every 10 years to keep your immunity up, and you have not had one since childhood. You never know when the next cut or injury might be, and the next one might be with a rusty nail or something else that is higher risk. See your primary care doctor, who can give you the shot.

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