Why a preventable mishap led to “is my tetanus shot up to date?”

The weather has been cantankerous. It just won’t give in to the arrival of Spring.

On Saturday, the weather finally improved. I raced around the yard like a calf just out of the barn, with 60 lb bales of soil to top up my raised beds. Everything was going great until I stopped being mindful of what I was doing. 

I turned my focus toward calculating how many more bales I would need for the last five planters that are back ordered. That was when I mis-stepped, tripped and did a three point landing onto a piece of rusty rebar.

The rebar is part of what pins my 4×16′ pre-fabbed planters. It was supposed to be countersunk and the caps placed on the connections. But I wanted to get that soil distributed so I could get a list together for the next round of soil and other garden supplies. 

That short cut is why I am writing this with my leg propped up. I’m okay and lucky it wasn’t worse. My right knee is wrenched and it will heal. 

However, the side of my right knee got sliced on the rusty and very sharp rebar that had been cut to fit the planters, which brings me to why I am writing this post.

I cleaned and dressed my knee, but for my life, I couldn’t remember when my last tetanus shot had happened. Lock jaw isn’t fun.

I have medical files for both of us, but my budget binder contains a fast referral section on key medical info. At a glance, I can tell when the next colonoscopy or blood work is due. For some reason, I had no information on tetanus shots for either of us. I found out this morning it was 2018, so in 9 years I will make the arrangement to have another before the 10 year expiry on it.

We need to know this information and keep it current and in print format because if the SHTF something as simple as falling could end up in lock jaw for the lack of a simple tetanus shot.

Medical conditions, recurring tests and blood work, vaccine record and current medications, including any and all allergies and adverse reactions need to be on hard printed copy. Don’t forget any anaesthetic problems or prior surgeries.

My haste and carelessness were a reminder of what an infection and an expired tetanus shot could become in a crisis. Even without the wrenched knee, I plan to move more thoughtfully in the future.


  • Comments (9)

    • 3

      Done that before!

      Stepped on a nail at work and went to urgent care. Believe they shot me with a tetanus shot anyways because I didn’t have a way to check if I was current or not. Since then I’ve kept a note on my phone and on a little piece of paper in my wallet with dates of all my vaccines.

      If you have or will get the Covid-19 vaccine, it would be good to note the days and make (moderna, johnson and johnson…) that you got them. There’s been talk of potentially needing a booster covid shot months from now for particular ones and it’ll be helpful to know what and when you’ve had things. Also, keep any proof you got your vaccine. Some airlines and places will not let you in unless you can prove you’ve had the vaccine.

      • 4

        Gosh! Can’t even imagine how much that  must hurt to step on a nail. 

        Reminds me of Marv stepping on a nail in the movie Home Alone. Not to make light of your injury though…


      • 5

        Hah Hah Liz, too funny! I forgot about Marv! I am laughing so hard, I can barely see the screen. Thought I would enclose a photo of me from last year after I finished around the home and property:


      • 3

        Owch! I’ve stepping on a nail is very painful. Sorry you went through that one.

        Thank you for the info on booster vaccine possibility. I have noted the Pfizer shot we received on April 2. There was supposed to be a second one at 21 days, but things have changed. Now I think it is going to be 4 months later for us. 

        It’s a good idea to have them handy, Robert. I agree that we will need to present this in time to come.

    • 6

      Good afternoon Ubique,

      Am guessing you got the COVID-19 shot/jab about 4 + weeks ago. Unless under 21 y.o., it could take a little longer for system to recoup.

      It could be advantageous to SLOW DOWN !  Planting and gardening  like cooking: well worth the efforts when subordinated to one’s health.


      My key document for med records is the (in US) CDC 731 INTERNATIONAL CERTIFICATE OF VACCINATION as approved by the World Health Organization.

      The document’s first section is for the international treaty travel requirement for Yellow Fever. Following is a section for “other” shots/jabs not international travel required pre-COVID, at least. 

      The next section is for “Medical Contraindication To Vaccination”. Next is section for doctor’s name address.  Following this blood type, RH. Next is 2 lines for “In Case of Emergency Notify”.  Then “Medications Taken Regularly”.

      In my pamphlet – actually I have 3 due much travel and annotations eg getting flu shot overseas – are stapled all the business cards of all my health care pfroviders AND photocopy of eye glasses prescription annotated with “PD”.

      This whole thing is only a thin yellow pamphlet. It’s in a small plastic bag in my vest.

      The – OTHER – main reason to use this form is that a volunteer emergency responder might recognize the yellow document  and the printed seal of the US Public Health Service …… At least if I trained them. Consider if unconscious and some people come to help you.  Complete story.

      Now the COVID-19 shot/jab gets a different CDC form and after shot/jab 2 will photocopy the heck out of the form and strategically place the copies where believe it is necessary like wallet. Original CDC COVID-19 form will be with my CDC 731 in sealed bag in vest.


      Please don’t ask why I sometimes do not carry my CDC-731 visible on outside garment. Some places I do not depend on to provide T.L.C. TLC = Tender Loving Care.

      Feet Notes:

      Older CDC-731s had section also for mandatory smallpox vaccination and a couple of others.

      Records management here does not win awards.

      At emergency preparedness fairs I used to hand out these pamphelts to those who appeared sincere in their preps and not at parking lot fair as a social event. 

      • 5

        That’s handy to have all your records in one little official book.

      • 5

        Good afternoon Bob,

        I had an international certificate of vaccine (and think I still have it with my passport). I got shots for Egypt and Indonesia (yellow fever). My vaccines probably aren’t relevant or good any longer, but I like the idea of having a carry document like that with everything noted properly. Thank you for the info Bob.

        I got my first Pfizer vaccine Apr 2, so I thought I was okay to resume speed. Now I have no choice but to slow down. I know you’ve been warning me and you were right. I have a heck of time slowing down. When I get working on something, I go steady and hard because I like to work. It is a challenge and I have to learn to slow down. I don’t want to something foolish like this in an emergency or disaster.

        ps. hope your hurricane preps are going well and that you are also taking time to rest from your shot. It’s a lot to prepare for every year. Those storms are immense. 

    • 3

      OH NO! I hope you are safe. You should get a pool noodle or put something around that rebar to prevent that from happening again.


      I appreciate your post and reminder. Just looked and my tetanus shot has been over 10 years ago. So I just made a doctors appointment for next week to go get it. Thanks for helping keep me safe and prepared

      • 3

        Hi Liz, I have to countersink the rebar into the holder in the planter frame. I should have done that first before loading the soil into the beds. I did a short cut because I wanted to get the soil in. I need a bonk on the head with one of those pool noodles. 

        I am so glad this helped you get your tetanus shot. It’s an easily overlooked shot because of the 10 year span on it. Something else that many people aren’t aware of is the pneummococal vaccine that is usually give to people 65 and over. 

        I received mine much earlier because I have a susceptibility to lung problems when I contract a virus or flu. If you or anyone you know has this type of problem, it’s good to know that this is available.

        For anyone 65 or over, definitely get the shot. It protects you against a particularly nasty strain of pneummonia.